Will Illinois teachers be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois school districts have made tough calls about how to educate students during a pandemic. With two vaccines possibly ready to go before the end of the year, will teachers be on the priority list to get the vaccine?

"At some point, as a matter of public policy, we are going to have to decide how critical are our schools, how critical and essential are schools' workers," said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Montgomery said if the goal is to gets kids back to school as soon as possible, teachers should be on the priority list for a vaccine. It is up to the state on how to distribute the vaccines.

"Teachers are very important, but I also want to recognize that we have a lot of frontline workers, cafeteria workers in hospitals for example, who are just as deserving," Gov. Pritzker said during Monday's COVID-19 briefing.

Gov. Pritzker plans to announce a distribution plan later this week. According to an Illinois Department of Public Health draft, priority will be given to health care workers, staff and residents at long term care facilities and critical workforce members who provide essential functions to society.

While there is no mention of teachers, Montgomery said teachers are ready: "I think the vast majority are going to get vaccinated when it's safe and appropriate."

Governor Pritzker said a priority list is necessary because both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses and there will be a limited supply at the beginning.

Even if teachers were to be on a priority list, it will be months before students are eligible for a vaccine. Then the question becomes: will schools require it? That decision is likely to be made by state and local health departments.
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