School leaders in Indiana are making plans for their staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19. In some counties, initial doses have already become available for teachers, while others are still waiting without much information about when they'll get their shot.
Some teachers in Evansville and in Knox County have already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and are among the first educators to do so in the state. Local school leaders said it's because the hospitals or local health departments reached out to let them know they had some available that needed to be used.
Vincennes Community School Corporation Superintendent Greg Parsley guesses more than half of his teachers have already received the first dose.
"It is a substantial number," he said.
Parsley said teachers will track their vaccination status with building nurses, and the district has internally planned on which staff members may need to be prioritized to receive the vaccine if the supply remains limited.
But other communities have yet to send any teachers to receive their first dose, and don't know when they will have that opportunity.
Logansport School Corporation Superintendent Michele Starkey said none of her staff have yet received the vaccine, but the local health department will start working through a waitlist of teachers who sign up to receive any doses that may become available.
She and her staff are eager to know more about when the vaccine will be more widely available.
"As we start to get people vaccinated and that kind of stuff then we're going to feel a lot more confident and comfortable doing more in school, because it is so important," she said.
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So far, she says she doesn't have a timeline for when to expect doses to be available for teachers and other critical school staff, but recently filled out a survey letting the state know their capacity for storage and distribution in school buildings.
Parsley and Starkey both say they won't require staff to receive the vaccine, and may not even have the power to do so without a state mandate. But so far, Parsley says, none of his teachers have had negative side effects, and have encouraged one another to get the vaccine.
"We've had no one that has exemplified any side effect to that – quite frankly I think you'll see there are strength in numbers and that those who might have been reluctant, when given that next opportunity, will be quick to sign up," he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends including teachers among essential frontline workers for vaccine distribution.
Indiana announced it will open vaccine distribution to Hoosiers 80 and older on Friday, and prioritize by age group. Health care professionals and first responders – including law enforcement and emergency medical services – are already eligible for vaccination appointments.