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Illinois teachers will not be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines

J.B. Pritzker speaks during a round table discussion with high school students at a creative workspace for women on October 1, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.
On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker released the state’s vaccine distribution plans. Illinois educators will not be among the first wave of workers to receive vaccinations.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois educators will not be among the first wave of workers to receive a vaccination for the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday.

The state will prioritize frontline healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities, Pritzker said during a press conference. When asked by Chalkbeat when teachers would receive vaccinations, Pritzker said that essential workers, such as teachers, will be addressed next.

The state’s public health guidelines say that the first vaccines will be dedicated to hospital and healthcare workers in the 50 counties in Illinois with the highest death rates per capita. The guidelines are aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices.

“(An advisory) subcommittee is meeting and producing recommendations for everybody. Certainly, after phase one A, and potentially after phase one B, we’ll start to see other various essential populations, like teachers, be addressed,” Pritzker said.

Across the country, states are beginning to release their vaccine distributions plans as the federal government is reviewing the Pfizer vaccine for emergency approval. In Philadelphia, the city’s schools chief has said he and other school leaders in urban districts are advocating for teachers to get priority after healthcare workers and people in assisted living facilities.

“So people want to restart the economy, children need to be back in school. We are advocating on a national level to be prioritized,” Philadelphia’s schools superintendent William Hite said Thursday.

At a Thursday evening town hall hosted by the Chicago Teachers Union, the subject of where teachers will fall in line for vaccinations was among the questions. More than 1,000 parents and educators logged into the event.

“Once the vaccine is available, will CTU now insist that every teacher, student, and person entering the building has the vaccine before going back? Recognizing this can never be mandated, what will be ‘acceptable’ for CTU to return to school,” one attendee asked in the chat.

Union officials said they aren’t involved in vaccine distribution.

“It is not up to us how the vaccine is distributed,” said Carol Caref, a research coordinator for the union.

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