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Teachers, public health prepare for educator vaccinations to start

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COVID-19 vaccine

MADISON (WKOW) -- Educators across Wisconsin will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, March 1, but that doesn't mean every teacher will be able to get a shot then.

"I can say for sure that Public Health Madison Dane County will not be," Doug Voegeli, PHMDC operations section chief, said Wednesday. "We've been planning to vaccinate our educators and our childcare personnel, and we put in a request for that, and we didn't get enough doses."

He said the department is working with health care systems and all school districts in Dane County to organize vaccination plans for teachers and other school staff.

Some of the vaccinations will happen at schools, some will happen at the Alliant Energy Center and some will happen at health care facilities.

"We're kind of working together as public health and our healthcare systems to maximize the capacity that they have and that we have so we can expand significantly [and] to make sure that we can get the doses and arms as quickly as possible," he said.

Teachers waiting for their turn

One of the Dane County teachers waiting to get her vaccine is Deidre Jarecki, an English teacher at La Follette High School.

"I want to get back to the classroom, and I would feel so much safer being vaccinated, so I'm not at risk," she said.

She told 27 News MMSD is prioritizing teachers and staff who have been working in buildings and then moving to those who will be returning to in-person learning soon.

"To me, [that] makes total sense," she said. "If I'm still teaching from home, I shouldn't be first in line right now."

MMSD is planning for Kindergarten students to return to in-person learning on March 9, with first and second-grade students following a week later on March 16.

Because PHMDC won't be starting educator vaccinations on March 1, some MMSD teachers will likely be back teaching in-person before they're able to get their first vaccine dose.

Voegeli said PHMDC will likely start vaccinations for teachers and school staff the week of March 15.

"That's probably when we will be having our set aside allocation for educators and childcare available, and that's when we'll start getting doses in arms," he said.

He said he expects all Dane County educators who want a vaccine to have both doses within 8 weeks of vaccinations starting.

Supply concerns linger

Although Jarecki is excited to get vaccinated, she said she is worried about supply issues.

"I wish everybody who wanted it could get it right now because I don't want to be jumping in front of someone else who's a grocery store worker because that could be my student or their parent or someone like that," she said.

Voegeli said he doesn't think that will be a concern for much longer.

"I hold a lot of hope that with a couple of vaccines that are in the hopper and going to come to us soon, that we're not gonna be talking about supply issues in a month," he said. "I think at the end of March and going into April, we'll have a lot of vaccine available, and it'll be pretty much just normal operations that we're running through and getting everybody vaccinated as quickly as possible."

He said PHMDC will continue to vaccinate those in tier 1B and those over 65 even as educator vaccinations begin.

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Caroline Dade

Reporter/Multimedia Journalist, 27 News

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