Nearly 80 percent of school staff members and child care workers have received at least a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, bolstering President Joe Biden’s efforts to reopen schools shuttered by the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that about 8 million teachers, school staff members and other child care workers had gotten their first doses by the end of March. A federal push to give such workers priority access to vaccines “paid off and paved the way” for a return to in-person education, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a news release.
“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,” Walensky said.
Biden could not tell state authorities whom to prioritize in their vaccine rollout programs, but his administration made it clear that he wanted to put school staff members at the forefront to reopen schools. Less than half the states were including teachers in their early vaccination rollouts, Vice President Kamala Harris told NBC’s “TODAY” show in February.
“They should be able to teach in a safe place and expand the minds and the opportunities of our children,” Harris said at the time. “So teachers should be a priority along with other front-line workers.”
A survey from the National Education Association released in February found that 70 percent of educators “would feel safer about working in-person” if they were vaccinated.
Biden announced Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine by April 19. There would be no more confusing rules or restrictions, said Biden, who urged Americans to remain vigilant as vaccinations roll out.
The virus is spreading because “we have too many people who see the end in sight” and “think we are at the finish line already,” Biden said. “Let me be deadly earnest with you: We aren’t finished.”
More than 168 million doses have been administered across the U.S., and about 63 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data Tuesday afternoon.
NBC News has created a tool called Plan Your Vaccine to provide information on each state’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts as the rollout extends across the country.