Pennsylvania will use the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for PreK-12 teachers and other school staff, announced Gov. Tom Wolf and his COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.
“This new single-dose vaccine adds another layer of support to get students and teachers back in the classroom,” said Wolf. “Teachers and staff who work with our children will be vaccinated, and I commend the task force and all of our partners for their tremendous commitment to their schools and communities.”
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last weekend authorized the vaccine for emergency use. Pennsylvania is slated to receive 94,600 doses this week.
To quickly get the vaccine into educators’ arms, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the departments of Education and Health are partnering with the 28 Intermediate Units to establish vaccine sites. The Pennsylvania National Guard and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare will administer the vaccine. Philadelphia operates its own separate vaccine distribution. The vaccination of educators is separate from the ongoing Phase 1A vaccine rollout, which continues.
Each IU region will have at least one vaccination location, with most locations starting vaccinations between March 10 and 13. Eligible school staff will receive information about vaccine locations and registration instructions. The vaccine is voluntary.
The initial priority is vaccinating school staff that have regular and sustained in-person contact with students during the regular school day, including teachers and staff providing PreK and elementary instruction, special education, English learners and associated support because younger children are more susceptible to learning loss and their families are more likely to have child care challenges.
The state is also working through the retail pharmacy partnership to ensure all early childhood education workers, including those not associated with an IU, have access to the vaccine, including child care workers providing an essential service to working families across the commonwealth.
The departments of Health and Education also updated recommendations to school leaders for offering instruction based on the level of community transmission in a county. Full in-person learning is recommended in low level counties, hybrid/blended learning is recommended in moderate counties and hybrid/blended learning is recommended for elementary grades and full remote learning for middle and high schools in substantial counties. Schools must continue to practice mitigation strategies, including face coverings, physical distancing and hand hygiene, regardless of the county’s transmission level.
Per CDC guidance, vaccinations are not required for schools to safely resume in-person instruction.
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