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Report: Georgia teachers crossing border into Alabama for COVID-19 vaccines

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Report: Georgia teachers crossing border into Alabama for COVID-19 vaccines

FILE PHOTO: The DeKalb County Board of Health received 2,500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and began vaccination of Board of Health frontline workers on Dec. 31, 2020 to be followed by long-term care facility residents and staff, and EMS personnel. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Atlanta, GA — While 28 states are giving some or all teachers priority when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, Georgia is not one of them.

But Alabama is vaccinating teachers, and Georgia Public Broadcasting reports that the state isn’t requiring proof of residency. Some educators are traveling across the state line to get the vaccine.

GPB interviewed one teacher, Debbie, who traveled to a Walmart in Auburn, Ala.

“I couldn’t sleep last night and saw that teachers could get vaccinated in Alabama, which is the neighboring state for me,” Debbie told GPB News. “And I went to the Walmart website, put vaccine in their search and signed up on my first try, which is much easier than most people I hear.”

The school district where Debbie works has not mandated masks for students, and she said she feels let down, GPB reported.

“I don’t feel like my district has protected me,” she told GPB. “I don’t feel like my governor has protected me. And I’ve done what I can to stay well, but no, I don’t feel like, you know, our lives matter.”

To read the full story, click here.

Georgia is currently in Phase 1A+ of its vaccination campaign, which does not include teachers unless they meet certain age requirements.

Image obtained from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Despite pressure from school officials to expand the Phase 1A+ category to include teachers, the state has refused citing limited supplies of the vaccine. According to NBC, state healthcare workers raided the Medical Center of Elberton, Ga. after the clinic vaccinated teachers, in violation of the state’s guidelines.

In a press release following the incident, the Georgia Department of Public Health said, “As Georgia’s federal allocation of vaccine increases, DPH will be able to expand vaccination eligibility to more Georgians, without limitations. Until that time, vaccine providers must adhere to the current phase of vaccination to ensure that the state’s limited vaccine supply is going to those individuals most at risk.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently examined the question of why the state is lagging behind its peers in vaccinating teachers. The report notes that there are about a million Georgians aged 65 to 74, and they were moved into the state’s first phase of its vaccination campaign from the third phase of the campaign.

“Georgia’s revised vaccine schedule diverges from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, that advise inoculating teachers before that group of younger seniors,” the AJC reported.

The state also moved police officers and firefighters into Phase 1A+. Georgia’s 450,000 educators are in Phase 1B, the AJC reported. To read the full story click here.

As local schools open their doors to students after nearly a year of virtual learning, teachers and educators are ratcheting up the pressure on state officials to prioritize educators. An event called “The Great Georgia Teach-In” will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Georgia Department of Education’s office of the state superintendent, located at 205 Jesse Hill Jr Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30303. The event, which begins at 2 p.m.,

“We’re teachers, parents, and community members working across districts to offer you a 2-hour educational event on COVID-19 and its impact on the school environment,” the event announcement says. “We’re bringing out STEM teachers who will literally teach concepts essential to understanding the unique situation we, as people who send kids to or teach kids at school, find ourselves in; we will address common myths. This is an educational event that celebrates the best in teaching and learning – taking scientific knowledge and delivering it to the public in a clear and consumable format.”

The goals of the event are include ensuring school districts to comply with updated CDC guidelines for reopening schools, prioritizing vaccines for school employees and for school districts to involve teachers and staff in decision-making. For more details about the event, which will be socially distanced with double-masks required, click here.

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