‘It’s a free for all’: SC teachers pushing for priority in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Governor McMaster’s big announcement on Tuesday that Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is officially set for March 8th has garnered mixed reactions; especially from South Carolina teachers.

State health officials say the total number of individuals eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1b is around 2.7 million. For reference, this is more than double the amount of people currently in Phase 1a which is under 1.3 million.

CLICK HERE FOR A BREAKDOWN OF EACH VACCINE PHASE

Lisa Ellis, a teacher and representative for SC for Ed, says the current situation for teachers trying to get vaccinated in Phase 1b can best be describes as “a free for all.”

“One of the things we have been disappointed about is that they did not prioritize teachers as the first group in Phase 1b. The reality is, over the last couple of weeks, teachers have found out they can get vaccinated in North Carolina,” says Ellis.

Ellis says crossing state lines is not the only method teachers are trying to get their doses. In fact, she has noticed dozens of educators sharing their loopholes on social media.

“You know, companies like Walmart and CVS have been allowing teachers to join waitlists and get vaccinated that way. I was actually able to get the first dose of the vaccine Friday because I was on the Walmart waitlist. Like any good teacher, we are taking care of our own and figuring out ways to get around a system that does not support public education,” she says.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Governor McMaster announced that all SC school districts no longer have an excuse to not open 5 days a week because of Phase 1b rolling out.

“My message to teachers and school staff. Take the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you, do not wait. It is safe and our students need you in the classroom delivering high quality instruction everyday as we work to address the academic impact of COVID-19,” says McMaster.

In the final months of a difficult school year, Ellis is still hoping that teachers will be prioritized in Phase 1b. However, if nothing else, she hopes educators in the state will be able to get their vaccine doses quickly and efficiently.

“I think the ideal situation is that teachers become the priority,” says Ellis, “and those vaccines are funneled into the school districts so they can get the vaccines in the arms as soon as possible.”

For more details on the logistics of the rollout of Phase 1b, click here.

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