LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Teachers and school staff in Kentucky could be among the first in the state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear said teachers and staff would have access to a vaccine after the initial group of front-line healthcare workers and long-term care facility staff and patients. They would be included in the same group as EMS workers.
“What it shows is that we’ve made our educators an absolute priority,” Beshear said. “We intend to reach them right after we’ve got the long-term care, our front-line health care workers working with COVID, EMS and they’re in that very next group.”
Beshear talked to school superintendents Friday and asked them to create a roster of staff members who would be willing to take the vaccine once it became available to them.
“(We’re) excited, just to be honest with you,” Hardin County School spokesman John Wright said. “Hopeful that there is a light now at the end of the tunnel, so we can hopefully get students back in the classroom sooner than we thought.”
Wright told WAVE 3 News since Friday’s meeting district leaders have begun planning how the vaccine will be rolled out in Hardin County. Wright said the district may prioritize staff members who are higher risk. He also said vaccination will be voluntary.
“We want to get involvement from all across the district,” Wright said. “Because ... that will create buy-in, and also it’ll help us realize maybe some things that we don’t realize. You know, sometimes when you’re in a forest you can’t see the trees, because you’re too deep in the forest. So we want to, we want our plan to be centered around the entire district, and not just some things that central office thought about.”
Shelby County school administrators also have begun the preparation process. District Health Coordinator Traci Earley told WAVE 3 News vaccinating the staff makes a return to in-person learning a real possibility.
“Our staff wants our kids back in school,” Earley said. “Our parents want our kids back in school, and this is a tremendous step in working towards that.”
Spencer County Superintendent Chuck Adams told WAVE 3 News he has asked administrative assistants and school principals to talk with staff members about vaccine registration to gauge their interest.
WAVE 3 News also reached out to Jefferson County Public Schools. District spokeswoman Renee Murphy said in a statement:
“This is certainly very important as we look to safely return to in-person learning. We will be sharing more information soon about what this will mean for our educators. This is extremely encouraging, and we look forward to the day we can have our students back in our classrooms.”
Beshear’s vaccination plan could gain momentum soon.
The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory council will consider Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine candidate Thursday, with distribution expected shortly after approval.
“We know that there is a light,” Wright said. “Let’s run towards it and let’s get excited about it, but yet have guarded anticipation and know that there’s still a long road ahead.”
Beshear told reporters Monday the state is still unsure of the logistics regarding vaccine distribution to educators and stressed flexibility from district superintendents regarding the process.
Beshear signed an executive order in November moving all public schools to remote learning, citing a spike in the state’s COVID-19 cases.