STATEWIDE (WGME) — Maine health officials are clarifying how and when teachers might get vaccinated. They are immediately eligible to get their shots, but they will be prioritized at only certain sites.
The Maine Education Association has been pushing for the move, especially since the state went to an age-based system.
“An educator who has been vaccinated will not need to quarantine as has been happening, so that will provide much more consistency for in-person learning for our students,” said MEA President Grace Leavitt.
But the MEA says some in education are still being left out.
“We still have higher ed staff and faculty, particularly our community colleges where the instruction has to be in-person,” Leavitt said.
The MEA will continue to advocate for them but they weren’t included in the Biden administration’s directive, which changed the state’s plan.
The federal guidelines focusing on schools also mean pharmacy chains must exclusively offer all unfilled appointments to school staff and child care workers through the end of March.
“It doesn’t mean anyone with an appointment now gets it canceled. They’ll continue to honor those appointments,” said Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
All other providers must allow this newly eligible group to set up appointments. They just won’t be first in line.
“We urge providers to only prioritize those at higher risk,” Lambrew said.
Providers are still updating their scheduling systems, while the state is going ahead with clinics dedicated to school staff for those 60 and older.
“We want to offer them a special dedicated, one-time opportunity to get a vaccine shot knowing that we appreciate their work and want them in their classrooms,” Lambrew said.
For now, this will not change in-person learning requirements.
“We will watch to see if the US CDC recommends lifting any of these public health protocols over time,” Lambrew said.
Advocates like Leavitt say they should remain in place, but teachers getting vaccinated adds a layer of security for everyone.