12 things you need to know about Utah teachers and school staff receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

K-12 employees can begin vaccination in January. These are some common questions and answers about the process.

(University of Utah Health) The University of Utah Health unloads its COVID-19 vaccines, prepares doses, and administers vaccinations to frontline health workers on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

After certain designated health workers and residents of long-term care centers, teachers in turn follow to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor Gary Herbert’s announcement earlier this month was greeted with cheers and sighs of relief from many in the educational community. Teachers entered the classroom each day, continuing to train during the pandemic, despite concerns about the spread of the virus. And more than 2,300 were infected this fall with open schools (a much higher rate than among students).

Their photos will start in January. “The enthusiasm here has been quite high,” added Jeff Haney, a spokesman for the Canyons School District. “There is so much interest among our employees.”

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about how the vaccine will be given to K-12 staff in the coming weeks.

What school employees can be immunized?

All school staff, including part-time staff, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It is not limited to the 27,000 teachers in the state.

“It includes administrators, bus drivers, custodians, lunch staff, paraprofessionals and so on,” Haney noted. Playground aids are also included, as are most substitutes who work regularly in schools.

The state has budgeted enough vaccine for any K-12 employee who would like one. Overall, there are about 70,000 eligible school members in the state, according to the Utah Board of Education.

To verify employment, staff will be asked to bring a valid ID. The only people not included would be volunteers who are not paid by a school for their work.

What is the timeline for my district?

Utah has already begun vaccinating health care workers who are in contact with COVID-19 patients, expects to begin vaccinating staff and residents at long-term care facilities this week, and is going to give doses to working health professionals. outside hospitals.

Then, the county health departments – not the state – will largely administer vaccinations to school staff. So the data for immunization varies by location.

Most K-12 employees can expect to receive a first dose of the vaccine in mid-January, however, said Tom Hudachko, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Health. The second dose will come in early February.

The Salt Lake City School District seems to be starting soon, with the first vaccinations set for Jan. 8 and 9. They came as part of an agreement with state leaders for the district to reopen personally; previously, he was the only one left in all online courses.

“Fingers crossed everything works,” said spokeswoman Yándary Chatwin.

Elsewhere in Salt Lake County, Granite School District will host a vaccination clinic on Jan. 15 with a makeup day on Jan. 23. Canyons School District is set for January 15 and may include January 16, if required. And the Murray school district has January 14 and 15 enrolled.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jennifer Frederick, a teacher at Mount Jordan Middle School in Sandy, is having a class discussion in Utah on Wednesday, December 15, 2020.

Jordan’s school district is still preparing for a period and will have more information for employees after the winter break, said spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf.

Hudachko said the data is provisional at the moment, as the state calculates how many doses of vaccine it will have. But each district is able to start programming. And most have sent information to their employees about when the administration is expected to happen.

Will the state have enough vaccine to give to school workers?

The promised supply of the vaccine varies from week to week, Hudachko said. But based on current estimates, the state is comfortable with the plan going forward.

The state has budgeted enough vaccines for school staff – including the second required dose, which comes about three weeks after the first.

Charla Haley, also a spokeswoman for the state health department, said officials are careful and calculated with doses. If they do not have enough to take the second dose, then taking just the first dose would be a “big waste.”

“There’s a lot of logistics involved in all of this,” she said. The first dose is about 70% effective. One week after the second dose, it jumps to 90-95%.

Currently, school districts are analyzing their employees to see who wants to be shot. This helped to supply the state budget. The Granite School District, for example, has about 9,000 employees in total, said spokesman Ben Horsley. So far, 3,200 have registered.

Murray plans to immunize about half of his 1,000 employees. However, Canyons registered 3,900 registrations – about 85% of its employees.

Does a school employee need to be vaccinated?

Not. Public school employees will not be required to receive the vaccine if they do not want to. “And we certainly don’t anticipate that everyone will,” said Doug Perry, a spokesman for the Murray School District.

However, private schools may be able to mandate it.

Does a parent or student come to know if their teacher has been vaccinated?

Not. Hudachko said a teacher “could share that information if they wanted to.” But the state will not provide it due to confidentiality requirements.

Some parents said they would like to know if their children’s teachers are vaccinated so that they can decide whether or not to send a child back to school.

Will school vaccines take doses from front-line health workers?

Of course not. The state anticipates that the first priority for vaccines – those in hospitals that work directly with patients with COVID-19 – will be immunized until the doses are given to teachers.
As of Monday, Utah hospitals reported that 6,519 doses were given to those health care workers.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Utah Health) Christy Mulder, a nurse in the University of Utah Health Intensive Care Unit, receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. She is believed to be the first person in Utah to receive the vaccine. .

Herbert said teachers acted as key workers throughout the pandemic, teaching face-to-face after encouraging schools to reopen. Obtaining the vaccine, he added, will also help students to continue attending school in person.

“We want to make sure our students go to school to learn,” Herbert said. “This will help minimize disruption to families at home.”

The plan has the support of the Utah Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the state.

After phase 1, which ends with school staff and protection services such as the police, the vaccine will be with people at higher risk of COVID-19 and other essential workers. The second phase will take place from February to May. The general public is expected to receive the vaccine by June or July.

Will the vaccines be given at school?

This again depends on the district. Many intend to bring nurses to administer the vaccine to schools or district buildings so that staff can be easily immunized. At Granite School District, for example, there will be 10 locations – including all of its eight high schools, as well as two other locations.

The provisional day set to get the vaccine there is a Friday, the day the district uses it for distance learning. Horsley said teachers and staff will then have the flexibility to get the vaccine without having to use their personal time. The blow lasts about two minutes, Horsley added.

In Murray School District, the shootings will be administered at Hillcrest Junior High. And in the Canyons, he will be at Mount Jordan Middle School. Both will have staff coming at designated times, in alphabetical order by name.

All districts in Salt Lake County will enter into contracts with community health care services, which will provide staff to administer the vaccines, said Nicholas Rupp, a spokesman for the county’s health department. The nonprofit has run student vaccine clinics for years.

Each district is expected to communicate with its staff about logistics. Other districts, for example, first vaccinate all SME employees and paramedics and then administer the vaccines to teachers, Haley said.

In more rural areas of the state, the distance is more difficult than along the Wasatch Front. Haley said some teachers there will have to drive 100 miles to get a vaccine.

“There are so many moving parts,” she admitted. “It’s just about everywhere.”

What about employees who can’t do this during their district?

Rupp said the county health department would have a clinic after schools administered their first vaccines to anyone who could not do so. Just bring a staff ID. “We will be that safety net,” he remarked.

What about teachers who only train online?

They can also sign up for a vaccine. The state has not placed any restrictions on school staff based on how classes are taught.

Are private schools included in this? What about the cards?

Yes. Administrators from private and charter schools will work with the local health department to schedule staff vaccination hours. Some private schools team up with nearby districts to do them on the same day and location to share resources. That’s what happens with the Murray School District and Mount Vernon Academy.

Yes. All school employees can be immunized free of charge. They are asked to bring an insurance card if they have one, but they will not be charged, Horsley added.

“Teachers are essential in the midst of this pandemic,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to help them get a vaccine, if they want one.”

It will be a long time – possibly another year – before students under the age of 18 can be vaccinated. This is mainly due to the fact that the first studies for the new vaccines have not yet been completed with children.

Part of this is by design, because older people are, the more serious they can be of coronavirus. Unlike their teachers, children rarely develop severe complications.

However, Pfizer is now starting clinical trials of its vaccine between the ages of 12 and 17, which have different immune responses than adults. The modern one will probably start the same during this month.