KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Teachers in Kalamazoo County want to know when they’ll be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine as educators in other counties have already begun the process.
Earlier this month, educators became eligible to receive the vaccine as the state moved to Phase 1B of the rollout plan.
While educators in other areas of West Michigan have already begun the vaccination process, teachers in Kalamazoo said they’re still waiting.
“I’ll be honest, it’s very frustrating,” Vicksburg High School teacher Jennifer Rodas said. “The vaccine was kind of that goal, that light at the end of the tunnel … and now to not have an idea when that’s going to happen.”
During a commission meeting Tuesday night, the Kalamazoo County health director said they’re only as good as their vaccine supply.
Officials with the health department say they’re currently working with district superintendents to put a plan in place to get educators vaccinated as quickly as possible.
The county health department is allocating half of its supply to vaccinate individuals 65 and older.
Of the vaccine supply, 25% will then be set aside for school and child care employees with the rest going to other essential workers listed in Phase 1B of the rollout plan.
“When you’re looking at the amount of vaccine that they’re getting, is 25% of that enough to cover the (school) buildings?” Rodas said. “And is it the best plan that we have moving forward for getting our buildings and our educators vaccinated?”
It’s a concern that only continues to grow as more teachers prepare to return to the classroom for face-to-face instruction.
“That’s even creating more anxiety for teachers because not only are they not vaccinated, but now they’re going to start, have to be dealing with a larger case load at school because districts are starting to move in that direction without us being fully vaccinated first,” Galesburg-Augusta High School teacher Eric Curtiss said.
Officials with the Kalamazoo County Health Department were unavailable for an interview Thursday afternoon, but sent News 8 the following statement regarding the vaccination process for educators:
“Now that Kalamazoo County is in Phase 1B, the health department is allocating 25% of the vaccine supply we receive for employees in schools and child care centers. It is estimated that over 6,000 individuals fall into this group. Throughout our entire COVID-19 response we have been working closely with Kalamazoo County superintendents. We have a plan in place with superintendents, and are only waiting to receive vaccine supply to be able to implement it. It is anticipated we will begin vaccinating our schools within the next several weeks. Our ability to vaccinate is dependent on access to vaccine supply.”-Lyndi Warner, Kalamazoo County Health Department spokesperson.