Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) today provided an update on the special initiative to provide the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Pre-K-12 teachers, child care workers and other school staff.
“As of today, 20 IU vaccination sites are operating across the state, with eight more scheduled to start tomorrow,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “More than 6,500 doses have been administered at IU clinics so far.”
The Wolf Administration is collaborating with Intermediate Units (IUs) and other education partners to equitably vaccinate all school employees and contracted staff as quickly as possible.
Pre-K to 12 public and non-public school staff across Pennsylvania will be provided an opportunity to be vaccinated, with educators and school staff working with elementary education students, students with disabilities, and English Learners being the first eligible to register.
Child care workers will be contacted by one of the local Retail Pharmacy Program partners — Rite Aid, Topco and Walmart — to schedule vaccinations using the additional, separate allocations of Johnson & Johnson vaccine they will receive from the federal government.
“The special initiative to vaccinate Pennsylvania’s educators and school staff through the Vaccine Task Force is one that will have an incredible impact on our school communities,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “I am thankful to everyone involved, including our Intermediate Unit teams, for their tireless work to coordinate these vaccination clinics across the commonwealth. The efforts put forth allow our schools to continue to deliver in-person instruction in a safe and efficient way.”
It’s important to note that Philadelphia is not included in these allocations, because Philadelphia County is a separate vaccine jurisdiction.
The Pennsylvania National Guard (PANG) and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, LLC, a health organization contracted by PEMA for planning and staffing assistance at commonwealth-established vaccine sites, will direct operations and administer doses at these sites.
IUs will work with Pre-K to 12 school entities to identify staff who are interested in receiving the vaccine. The following individuals will be given the first opportunity to register:
- Pre-K-12 teachers of students with disabilities and English learners and related in-classroom support staff;
- Elementary teachers and related in-classroom support staff, beginning with the youngest students;
- Bus drivers/transporters, and support staff and contracted service providers who have direct contact with elementary students; and
- Other priority school staff who have regular, sustained in-person contact with students during the school day.
More information and answers to questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine for teachers, child care workers, and school staff is available on PDE’s website.
As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its recently updated guidance, access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction. Even after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue to implement mitigation strategies, including face coverings and physical distancing.
Photos, videos and soundbites from an IU vaccination clinic in Cumberland County, including school personnel receiving the vaccine, is available for use here.
Kendall Alexander, PDE: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Miller, PEMA: email@example.com