80% of school staff vaccinated, with many teachers returning
“Educators are flocking to get the vaccine, and the overwhelming majority are back teaching in-person,” the American Federation of Teachers declared this week.
More than 80% of American Federation of Teachers members have been vaccinated or have appointments to get inoculated, while 85% say their schools have re-opened at least a part-time, according to a survey by the union.
“Educators are rolling up their sleeves, not only to get vaccinated but to return to in-person schooling with the CDC’s safety guardrails in place,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said.
Overall, the CDC says, about 80% of teachers, school staff, and childcare workers received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine as of the end of March.
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More than 2 million teachers, school staff, and childcare workers were vaccinated through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in March while more than 5 million were inoculated through state programs. Prioritizing teachers as essential workers for vaccines and school-based vaccination events drove these numbers, the CDC said.
“Our push to ensure that teachers, school staff, and childcare workers were vaccinated during March has paid off and paved the way for safer in-person learning,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said. “CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue expanding our vaccination efforts, as we work to ensure confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.”
The AFT says its survey shows that reopening schools safely is motivating teachers to get vaccinated; 86% of its members said protecting students and other staff was a key factor in their decision.
“Since the early days of the pandemic, teachers have turned on a dime, first to implement remote learning and now to return to classrooms to engage their kids face-to-face,” Weingarten said. “This comprehensive study shows trust is growing, as AFT members have embraced vaccines as vital to getting back in the classroom.”
More than 90% of the K-12 teachers, paraprofessionals and higher education members whom the union surveyed said they trusted their doctors to provide accurate vaccine information.
And 88% trust the CDC; 79% trust Dr. Anthony Fauci; 72% trust a co-worker; and 71% trust President Joe Biden.
Some Republican AFT members remain hesitant to get the vaccine, the survey found.
“This polling shows AFT members know the importance of in-school learning,” Weingarten said. “They want to return, the road map to reopening is robust, and if we instill trust and meet fear with facts we can finally end this national nightmare.”