'I Want To Be Here': Indiana Teachers Eager For COVID-19 Vaccine Under New Eligibility
President Joe Biden has opened up federal COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to K-12 teachers and child care workers, with many in Indiana already making plans to get their shot at federal pharmacy program sites.
Indiana hasn't changed its approach to vaccine eligibility, but more teachers are also eligible under the state's most recent expansion to Hoosiers 50 and older.
Indiana has expanded eligibility twice in the last week, which health officials said was because of the increase in vaccine supply from the federal government and the emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Teachers are eager to schedule their first dose, after months of frustration with the state refusing to offer them more access to vaccines.
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Crawfordsville High School science teacher Jenny Veatch said she's planning to schedule her shot in the coming days.
"Not that I'm scared, but because I wanna be here. I don't want to be quarantined at home teaching remotely, I wanna be here for the kids, it's better that I'm here," she said.
Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said it will take time for federal distributors to adjust to teacher eligibility, and will likely be fully prepared for the change by next week. He said teachers should pursue vaccines wherever they're eligible – whether through a federal site, or a state site if they qualify with other criteria.
"It's going to take a coordinated effort among our pharmacies and our educators to make sure we make this happen," he said.
Gambill said he expects to see more students coming back into school buildings as more educators get vaccinated, but many Hoosier schools have already opened buildings to provide some sort of in-person instruction.
According to the state, 89 percent of schools report already operating in-person.