CHARLOTTE — Teachers and other educational support staff can now start making their appointments to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
Starting Wednesday, the state will expand vaccine eligibility to Group 3, starting with educators and school personnel.
This group includes teachers, principals, childcare providers, bus drivers, custodial and cafeteria staff and others in our pre-K-12 schools and childcare centers.
State leaders estimate about 240,000 people will become eligible for the vaccine in this group.
Educational leaders across North Carolina said this is a vital step in having students safely return to classrooms.
“North Carolina public school educators are eager to get back into their classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so, and today’s announcement from Governor Cooper is an important step forward in making that a possibility,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. “By giving all educators, including bus drivers, maintenance workers, nutrition workers, and those who work directly in the classroom vaccination priority, we will be able to resume in-person instruction more quickly and safely. We thank Governor Cooper for listening to the overwhelming message from educators, parents, and the community that educators require vaccination priority.”
This comes as many districts are starting to bring students back in-person part time, but each county is doing things differently.
Mecklenburg County health officials told Channel 9 moving to Group 3 vaccinations is not mandatory. All vaccine providers can chose whether or not do so.
So far, health officials in Mecklenburg, Rowan, Gaston and Union counties plan to move forward with Group 3 vaccinations of teachers, child care workers and other school staff.
Many of those districts are working directly with schools and child care centers to schedule the vaccine appointments.
On Wednesday, Caromont Health in Gaston County will hold a vaccination event for those eligible in Group 3.
Rowan County Public Health will host a first dose clinic for people in Groups 1, 2, and 3 on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Union County is planning a large vaccination event for educators and other eligible workers in Group 3 on Feb. 26 and 27.
Iredell-Statesville Schools is partnering with Iredell Health System to vaccinate 1,000 school employees on Wednesday.
School leaders said district teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, support staff and substitutes will be able to get the vaccine in the parking lot at Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville.
“What an opportunity for these teachers to feel completely solid in their role as frontline educators,” said Natosha Newton, teacher with ISS.
At this point, the district has more than 1,300 employees who want the vaccine and those who don’t get the shot on Wednesday will be scheduled for a later day.
Newton said that she hopes all teachers and school staff who want the vaccine will be able to get it quickly.
“They’re essential workers,” she said. “They’ve shown up and taught through all of this.
The least they can request is to feel protected as one of their rights to a vaccine.”
Cabarrus County health officials said they’re discussing clinics just for teachers and school staff, “but plans are dependent upon state vaccine allocation and access.”
Cox Media Group