Twenty six states plus Washington D.C. are already allowing some or all of their school employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Teachers unions, along with firefighters and other labor unions, have asked the state to support a pilot program to rapidly vaccinate all school employees in ten to 20 high-need districts in the next month.
They also asked for higher education staff to be added to phase two of the vaccine rollout. While K-through-12 educators are in phase two, higher ed faculty are in phase three.
Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, noted Massachusetts doesn’t yet have a state-approved plan for how and when to vaccinate school employees.
“Our most precious resource in society are our young people,” Najimy asserted. “And society has to take care of the people who are taking care of young people. And so far, more than half the states in the nation have already begun vaccinating educators.”
Najimy contended the plan would take the burden off of state and municipal leaders.
Mascon Medical, an infection control business, would take care of the infrastructure and logistics; firefighters, EMTs and nurses would administer the vaccine; and unions would line up school employees to receive it.
Najimy alleged school employees have in many cases been working in unsafe conditions, and argued making sure the vaccination rollout is rapid and thorough would not only benefit educators, but students, their families and communities as well.
She hopes it will serve as a model for other communities.
“If it works in one place, it’s the kind of thing that we can scale up and use this as the distribution model to get vaccines to all school employees,” Najimy suggested.
She added the one missing partner is the Commonwealth itself. She urged Gov. Charlie Baker to get on board and allow unions a chance to help serve the community.