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Union Calls For Higher-Priority Vaccination For Teachers

The Maine Education Association is calling for educators to be “prioritized” in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Currently, teachers may fall under Phase 1B of the plan, behind older Mainers and those with high-risk medical conditions. MEA President Grace Leavitt says she understands that vaccine supply is limited, but hopes to see educators receiving doses as soon as possible.

“We just want to be sure that we’re not being pushed aside, or forgotten,” she says.

Those comments come after U.S. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that teachers’ vaccinations aren’t a prerequisite to safely open schools. In Maine, the vast majority of school buildings have been open since last fall, and state officials say there’s been little evidence of viral transmission inside.

But in a statement, the MEA says that access to vaccinations for educators will “expedite the return to reopening our schools full-time.”

“We know that the state is making decisions based on data, in terms of those who are the most at risk. And we just want to be sure that everyone knows that our educators are at risk, and have been at risk in our schools,” Leavitt says.

At least some teachers are eligible for vaccinations in many states. In a briefing on Tuesday, state public health officials said the Mills administration continues to prioritize older Mainers, who are associated with the vast majority of deaths from the virus.

For disclosure, most of Maine Public’s news staff is represented by the Maine Education Association.