Teachers and school staff should be vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 shot by month’s end, President Joe Biden says

Vaccine shot
A frontline healthcare worker receives a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at the Park County Health Departments storefront clinic on January 5, 2021 in Livingston, Montana. Photo by William Campbell/Getty Images
  • Biden told states to prioritize educators in the vaccine rollout to calm fears of opening schools. 
  • The president said teachers and school staff should receive at least one dose by the end of March.
  • The CDC said educators don’t need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person learning to resume.
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President Joe Biden is pushing states to vaccinate teachers and school staff against COVID-19 so educators and parents feel safe going back to school in person.

Biden directed all states and jurisdictions to give teachers, school staff, and childcare workers at least one shot of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the month, regardless of age. Biden noted 30 states, including California, Ohio and New York, have already prioritized teachers. He urged the remaining states, including Texas, Georgia and New Jersey, to do so as well. 

“Let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is,” Biden said in a Tuesday White House briefing. “And that means getting essential workers who provide that service – educators, school staff, childcare workers – get them vaccinated immediately.”

Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which received emergency approval in December, both require two doses separated by about a month. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which just received approval, requires only a single dose, though the company has just begun shipping shots

To help prioritize educators, Biden said he has directed the federal pharmacy program to allow pre-K through grade 12 educators and workers to sign up for a vaccination appointment at a location near them. 

The president said he continues to hear educators and parents who “have anxieties” about going back before employees are vaccinated, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said schools can safely reopen using other steps. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said every teacher doesn’t need to be vaccinated before students can return safely to in-person learning. The department has laid out safe-reopening guidelines, which include universal mask use, six-feet distancing, proper handwashing, clean facilities, and contact tracing with isolation and quarantine rules.  

According to CDC data, 267 children younger than 18 have died from the virus in the US. That’s less than .1% of the more than 500,000 people who have died in the country from the disease. Some have noted the greater impacts of the pandemic being on children’s mental health.