SCS educators, staff may not receive COVID-19 vaccine until March

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — People across the Mid-South want to know when they will be able to get their COVID-19 vaccine shot.

Teachers are one group saying they need proper access to the get the vaccine, and we’re learning that might not be happening as soon as officials had hoped.

This news about the vaccine comes as there’s pressure to reopen schools across the county.

 “We want to be back into the classroom. We want to get back to in-person as soon as we can,” Danette Stokes, the President of the United Education Association of Shelby Co., said.

But they believe they will be able to get back to school sooner when educators and staff have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We were anticipating that it would occur earlier but at this time it looks like it will be later in this month, possibly the first of March. That’s our hope is that it will occur sooner rather than later,” Dr. Judy Martain, Shelby Co. Health Department, said.

This announcement from the Health Department comes after Shelby County Schools Superintendent announced Friday a delay to in-person learning.

In a pre-recorded message to families Dr. Joris Ray said he couldn’t provide a new target date for returning to the physical buildings. But he did talk about vaccines. 

“Vaccinations are rolling out across the country, and I asked Governor Lee to pledge his support for prioritizing educators in the vaccination lines. While the governor would not commit to helping us, we are working diligently with the Shelby County Health Department to train our nurses and hosting district sites to offer vaccinations to our educators,” Ray said.

Ray’s message comes as there’s growing pressure from the state’s governor to re-open classrooms.

This week the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce President and CEO sent a letter to Ray and school board members commending their work but also urging them to consider a return. 

On Tuesday, Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said teachers getting a vaccine before going back to a physical classroom setting, “the ideal situation.”

“Our preference would be that they be vaccinated prior to but that’s not an absolute necessity,” Randolph said.

WREG-TV reached out to the school district for a comment, but we have not heard back from there.

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