Educators among those now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published January 18, 2021

As many teachers across Michigan prepare to head back to classrooms full of students, many are still waiting to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

On Jan. 11, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials announced the state was moving to a new phase of vaccination. Phase 1B — which includes individuals 65 years and older, and frontline, essential workers in critical infrastructure, such as education, food and agriculture, utilities, law enforcement, firefighters, corrections officers, and transportation and grocery store workers.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said the state is pleased to move forward in the next stage of vaccinations. 

“These vaccines are safe and effective, and we especially want our first responders, teachers and older adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The Oakland County Health Division is currently vaccinating individuals in phases 1A and 1B of the MDHHS COVID-19 vaccination plan who work or live in Oakland County, and it plans to open more appointments as soon as the county is guaranteed additional vaccine doses from the state. Phase 1A includes EMS workers, essential health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

At press time, the Health Division had received 7,800 doses, administered about 6,500 vaccines, and scheduled an estimated 17,000-plus first- and second-dose appointments through the end of February. 

Officials said minimal vaccine supply limits the county’s ability to schedule appointments for the hundreds of thousands of eligible workers and Oakland County residents who are still waiting to be vaccinated. 

In Rochester Community Schools, the district’s occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists are included in Phase 1A, while educators are included in Phase 1B.

In the Rochester Community Schools district, elementary-age students were slated to return to school by cohort the week of Jan. 25, with middle school students returning Feb. 1, and high school students Feb. 8. 

RCS Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Debi Fragomeni said the district is not mandating vaccinations for its staff members. 

“We are strongly encouraging it, but it is not a mandate of our district,” she said.

Those who live or work in Oakland County and are interested in getting vaccinated are encouraged to use the county’s newly launched “Save Your Spot” link at oaklandcountyvaccine.com to help officials identify individuals who are eligible and interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone unable to complete the form can call the upgraded health hotline at (800) 848-5533.

County Executive David Coulter urged community members to complete the form to help the county plan for administering future doses of vaccine it receives. 

“This will help us reach residents and workers who are eligible for vaccination when more doses become available. As we receive more vaccine, we will continue to administer them quickly and efficiently until everyone has the opportunity to receive the vaccine,” he said in a statement.

To receive updates on COVID-19 vaccine availability, register your email address at oaklandcountyvaccine.com or text OAKGOV to 28748. 

Call Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at (586) 498-1060.