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State considering prioritizing teachers for COVID-19 vaccine

State officials are considering a plan to move teachers up in the vaccine line in a bid to get schools reopened more quickly.

Rep. Tim O’Neal, R-Washington, who sits on the state’s coronavirus task force, told The Associated Press on Monday that Wolf and his acting health secretary, at Sunday’s task force meeting, discussed making it possible for teachers to get vaccinated soon.

“I was under the impression that that was the way they were going,” O’Neal said.

The state is still in Phase 1A of its vaccine plan, offering the shots to people age 65 and over and younger people with high-risk medical conditions — a population that numbers around 4 million.

Teachers currently are grouped in Phase 1B, along with grocery store workers, first responders, manufacturing employees and others considered to be essential workers.

Teachers unions, superintendents, school boards and other education groups have asked Wolf to prioritize school staff for the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it an “absolutely essential” step toward reopening schools and keeping them open.

Lyndsay Kensinger, Wolf’s spokesperson, said Monday that the task force “continues to work on a plan for the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.” She said the Wolf administration hopes to announce details later this week.

Federal regulators have given emergency authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

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