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BCTF president hopeful teachers can receive COVID-19 vaccine before summer

Last Updated Mar 5, 2021 at 9:01 am PDT

FILE (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Head of the BCTF says there's more urgency to get teachers immunized, with more confirmed cases of variants in schools

Teri Mooring points to the U.S., saying teachers should be immunized soon

Mooring says it would be in the public interest to get teachers vaccinated against COVID-19 quickly

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The head of the BC Teachers’ Federation is holding out hope the arrival of more vaccines in B.C. pushes up the timeline for immunizing essential service workers.

Teri Mooring says there’s more urgency, now that we know at least 16 schools in the Fraser Health region have recorded variant cases of COVID-19.

“We can point to the U.S. right now, where the U.S. president is instructing states to immunize all teachers in March. That’s something that will probably support their school system, and allow their school system to remain open,” she said.

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Mooring says it would be in the public interest to get teachers immunized.

“Our position all along has been that teachers should be prioritized with other frontline workers and, as new vaccines become available, there should be a prioritization for frontline workers,” she said.

Even with the recent addition of rapid response teams dedicated to education, Mooring still doesn’t think enough is being done to prevent the transmission of the virus in schools.

“The door has been opened to prioritize frontline workers,” she said. “Certainly, we’re seeing that happening in other jurisdictions in other countries.”

She says teachers are worried a “functional outbreak” could force a school to close if enough teachers are forced to stay home.

Mooring says that’s happening now at a public school in Hazelton, as well as Archbishop Carney Secondary in Port Coquitlam. Staffing shortages at that private school means students must go back to online learning until at least spring break.

Earlier this week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is now lengthening the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 shot to four months, instead of 42 days.

“That means we can move everybody up the list. More people will be protected sooner. Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people sooner,” Henry said Monday.

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With more doses available, and the AstraZeneca vaccine only advised for people under 65, the province has said it’s possible frontline and essential workers may be eligible for the vaccine ahead of their age group.

Nothing has been confirmed, and details are still being worked out.