Nearly 80% of school staff and educators have received at least a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, bolstering President Joe Biden’s efforts to reopen schools closed by the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday that about 8 million teachers, school staff and other educators received their first dose at the end of March. A federal push to give these workers priority access to vaccines “has paid off and paved the way” for a return to in-person education, said CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky.
“The CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue to expand our immunization efforts, as we work to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines,” Walensky said.
While Biden can’t tell state officials who to prioritize in their vaccine deployment programs, his administration has made it clear that he wants to put school staff first in order to reopen schools. Less than half of the states included teachers in their early immunization rollouts, Vice President Kamala Harris told “TODAY” in February.
“They should be able to teach in a safe place and expand the minds and opportunities of our children,” Harris said at the time. “Teachers should therefore be a priority along with other frontline workers.”
A National Education Association survey released in February showed that 70 percent of educators “would feel safer working in person” if they were vaccinated.
The CDC’s update on vaccination figures comes as Biden announced on Tuesday that all adults in the United States should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19. There would no longer be confusing rules or restrictions, Biden said, while urging Americans to remain vigilant as vaccinations roll out.
“The virus is spreading because too many people who see the end in sight think we’re already at the finish line,” Biden said. “Let me be extremely serious with you, we are not finished.”
More than 168 million doses have been administered across the United States, even though only about 63 million people are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data on Tuesday afternoon.
NBC News created a tool called Plan Your Vaccine to provide information on each state’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts as the rollout expands across the country.