Teachers struggle to find COVID vaccine as demand continues to eclipse supply

Some teachers are having a hard time finding COVID-19 vaccines as demand continues to vastly outweigh supply, even as President Biden urges states to prioritize them.

Video Transcript

MICHELLE GALLARDO: There are hundreds of thousands of child care and school staff across Illinois already part of the 1b vaccination group. Many have managed to get a shot, but others are still scrambling to get an appointment, especially in Chicago, where the sheer number of personnel needing a vaccine vastly outweighs current supply. At present, CPS offers teachers and staff 1,500 appointments a week.

JESSE SHARKEY: The problem is that at that pace, if that pace doesn't increase, it's going to take until the end of the year before-- before educators are fully vaccinated.

MICHELLE GALLARDO: A new pledge from the federal government aims to significantly speed that timeline up, President Biden moving all educators and school staff to the front of the line, even in states that have not yet made them eligible. The goal is to provide at least the first dose of the vaccine to every education worker nationwide by the end of March.

KATHI GRIFFIN: Safety is key and knowing that all the adults in a building who choose to get vaccinated are vaccinated is going to be a great help in the right direction.

MICHELLE GALLARDO: While the administration's move will mostly benefit educators in states that were not yet prioritizing them, it is unclear what difference it will make in Illinois.

JEN PSAKI: To help states do that, starting next week we will be using the Federal Pharmacy Program to prioritize vaccinating teachers, school staff, and child care workers during the month of March.

MICHELLE GALLARDO: For now, however, only a limited number of Walgreens are participating in the federal program, and it's not yet clear whether additional doses will be shipped and set aside specifically for educators' use. There are no numbers statewide to indicate how many school personnel have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, with CPS specifically telling us that as of Monday, just over 19,000 appointments have been offered to those who are currently eligible.