Teachers could reach the front of the vaccination queue as early as March, and officials are working to ensure their inoculation efforts go smoothly, an Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) spokesperson said.
Based on recent supply projections shared during the most recent Orange County Vaccine Task Force, teachers should become eligible for the vaccine in about three weeks, Ian Hanigan said.
“The task force will continue to prioritize this vulnerable [aged 65 and older] population with its limited doses,” he said on Feb. 10. “Currently, about 25 percent of individuals 65 years or older have been vaccinated. Once we reach 50 percent of those who wish to be vaccinated within this age group, officials plan to start Phase 1B, which will include educators and school-based employees.”
The OCDE has been ramping up its efforts to prepare for the impending inoculations of educators, and is working with local health officials to regionalize efforts.
School nurses will be deployed to help administer the vaccines, the OCDE said, and it will hire about 150 additional nurses to expand capacity. There are about 150,000 educational workers employed within Orange County.
Once there’s adequate supply to begin vaccinating teachers, they will be prioritized based on risk. Special education teachers who work closely with students would be in a higher tier than instructors who teach virtual lessons remotely, the OCSD said.
Right now, the Orange County Health Care Agency is still working to vaccinate those in Tier 1A, a category that includes frontline health care workers, first responders, and those aged 65 and older.
“Data shows that a disproportionate percentage of individuals in the [intensive care unit] are aged 65 and over,” county spokesperson Molly Nichelson told The Epoch Times. “By prioritizing this vulnerable population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of people in the ICU is decreasing, and we are saving lives.”
There is no definitive guideline on when the next tier of priority patients will become eligible for the vaccine, she added.
“The county will reevaluate expanding eligibility to more populations weekly as ICU levels stabilize and more vaccine doses become available,” Nichelson said. “There is no firm timeframe for expanding eligibility.”