President Biden recently announced a directive that all states prioritize vaccinations of teachers and childcare workers, with a goal for all school staff and childcare workers to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March. In response, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington Department of Health have added K-12 staff and educators and childcare workers to Washington’s current vaccination phase, effective immediately.
The following groups have been added to the current vaccination phase:
- Pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade educators and school staff
- Childcare and Youth Development workers/providers, including:
- All licensed childcare providers.
- Licensed family home childcare providers, and the family members living in their home.
- License-exempt family, friends, and neighbor providers that accept Working Connections Child Care Subsidy.
- ECEAP, Washington’s state-funded preschool providers.
- License-exempt school-age childcare and youth development providers have been providing care to children and youth since the pandemic began and schools were closed. A definition of this provider group is found here on page 2 – please refer to this list of programs/provider types to see if you/your staff qualify at this time.
Next steps and accessing the vaccine
While school teachers and staff, as well as child care and youth development providers (definition of youth development providers listed here on pg. 2), are now eligible for vaccination, the supply of vaccines—in Washington state and nationally—remains limited. And with more people eligible for the vaccine, appointments will continue to be relatively scarce. Getting vaccinated will become easier as pharmacies and other vaccine providers receive more supplies.
The following are suggestions for school and childcare staff to access vaccination. Please read carefully.
- Use the online Phase Finder tool to confirm your eligibility and schedule an appointment. The phase finder is available in many languages. Paper versions of the tool are also available on the partner resources page. Teachers and staff who have already completed the phase finder tool prior to the change in vaccination phase guidance should receive an e-mail soon with more information about scheduling an appointment for a vaccination. Those who complete the tool now will be directed to a site with this information.
- You may also find vaccination appointments at pharmacies using VaccineFinder. This site lists some pharmacies that are not in Phase Finder yet.
- The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will prioritize vaccinating school staff and childcare, and youth development providers during the month of March. Providers and staff will be able to sign up for an appointment through this program beginning next week.
- Some school districts, health care providers, or counties may host clinics specifically for schools and childcare workers. OSPI’s Q&A document describes some opportunities that may be available specifically to educators. We anticipate that more information will come out from OSPI about the “Get Ready” plan that will provide more access to vaccination for school staff and some child care and youth development providers. Learn more here.