That the vaccination plan against COVID-19 has taken a second step to include teachers in phase 1B in New York, means a “double dose” of hope for the Quisqueyana Yemmy Tavares, a resident of the Bronx: her two children 4 and 6 year olds receive classes under the mixed model (virtual and face-to-face), but her husband is also a teacher in a secondary school.
MIami Mundo / eldiariony
“It seems to me that little by little we are going to return to normalcy. I was afraid at first that my two children would go to classrooms, because they are asthmatic. But despite all the risks, the teachers in the schools have been doing a great job. That they are already getting the vaccine is very encouraging for thousands of families, “said the islander.
The immunization strategy for educators and other workers attending public schools in the Big Apple began last Monday, with some confusion over which teachers and workers should be first in the long line to receive the doses.
“Everyone here must have a little patience. We are millions in this city and nobody can think that this was going to be a simple process. Just as they managed to open schools in the midst of this global pandemic, I think they will also be able to protect the majority with this new advance, ”said Tavares.
Since last March 15, when the 1,800 public schools in the Big Apple were closed before the first outbreak of COVID-19 until its reopening last fall, to keep 1,100,000 students under the ‘roof’ of the education system, of which a just over 40% are of Hispanic origin, it has been one of the biggest challenges for the City in times of pandemic.
The City’s Chancellor of Education, Richard Carranza, clarified all doubts by sending a communication in which he specified: “If you are working remotely for one of our schools at this time, wait for more guidance on when to schedule your vaccination.”
When José Zambrano, 45, a Puerto Rican music teacher from a public school in East Harlem, received the official information from the municipal authority, he had already made the request to be inoculated. This Tuesday he received a formal communication that specified that “he should wait.”
“It is understandable. I only go to school for one planning meeting every fortnight. My contact with students is through virtual platforms. It is difficult to teach arts at a distance. We have been getting used to it. I think that although the vaccine is already in place, we will continue this entire school year under this modality. Nothing looks fast with this virus, “said the educator.
The expectation of this teacher is not far from the calculations of the state health authorities. Completing this second phase of vaccination, which also included police officers, firefighters, rescuers, public transportation workers and all New Yorkers over 75, is projected to take 14 weeks based on current drug availability.
“Like many health workers, I have heard from colleagues who go to school every day and will not agree to injecting. There are many stories. It’s normal, for something so new. I have other colleagues who are simply very allergic and need to wait to get checked. The City will have to deal with this, ”added Zambrano.
Indeed, spokesmen for the City Department of Education (DOE) through their exhortations have clarified that although they are offering all channels for an “accessible, free and safe” plan, it will not be a requirement to be vaccinated to continue in the educational system .
Vaccines are getting closer
This Tuesday, when the second day for the vaccination process for school personnel opened, several teachers complained through social networks that although they applied for this phase, after hours of trying, the digital platforms enabled by the City they indicated that they had no “appointments available” in the next few weeks.
“At this moment we are expanding the vaccination centers in the five counties, each day that passes we will have new places that in weeks will bring the vaccine closer to everyone. In the first hours of this process, we have observed that there is a high motivation in our staff to apply it. This could be the first step towards meeting us all in the schools in the future, ”a DOE spokesperson told El Diario.
Meanwhile, Colombian Josefina Viña, 35, assures that it is “good news” that education workers are beginning to be immunized, because she assumes that “each vaccine shortens the day so that the teaching process is more normal” .
The immigrant from Queens who is the mother of a 12-year-old girl with “special education needs” and who is receiving virtual instruction at a public educational center in Corona, believes that nothing substitutes for the classroom experience.
“I was relieved when I learned that they started vaccinating the teachers. Maybe we will still be dealing with this next fall. It is a big step. Distance education is not the same. Children need to learn to relate to other people. Here despite the slowness that many denounce in the process there is hope. Imagine how all this pandemic is in our countries, ”shared Viña.
Syndicate is counting
The president of the United Federation of Teachers (FUT), Michael Mulgrew, announced that the union had reached an agreement with the main health systems to expand access to the vaccine to all eligible members of this union.
This week began surveying all school workers who immediately decided to apply the drug, prioritizing staff with an in-person assignment on a campus.
In the first 24 hours of the consultation, 17,000 teachers and other workers in the education system stated that they wanted to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
The union will then coordinate with healthcare facilities to ensure that teachers and other members who wish to inoculate can do so as soon as possible at convenient locations throughout the Big Apple.
“Thousands of vaccine doses lie dormant, or even wasted, as the current system leaves healthcare providers waiting for eligible recipients to show up. We are creating a group of members who choose to participate, who want the vaccine, and then we will link them with providers who have vaccines available, ”Mulgrew said.
The teacher leader maintains that although his agreements with providers will make it easier for teachers to obtain the vaccine, limits on the state’s supply will mean that not everyone who wants the vaccine will be able to receive it immediately.
“Increasing the national supply will be one of the first priorities of the new Joe Biden administration,” he stressed.
So goes the vaccine
870,000 workers in the New York State education system are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1B according to statistics from the New York State Department of Health.
80,000 teachers have the NYC public school system.
140,000 employees are on the payroll in every school district in the city.
669,175 doses of the new Pfizer and Moderna drugs are available in the Big Apple inventories.
239,324 doses had been applied as of Tuesday in New York City to groups 1A and 1B.
3.2 million New Yorkers are eligible for group 1B, whose inoculation could end in the first half of April.
How do I know if I am eligible for the vaccine?
If you are eligible in Phase 1A or 1B, you can make an appointment now to receive your doses. Use https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/ the detailed information finder to get your vaccine in New York City.
Additional sites for the COVID-19 vaccine will be added as they become available.
You can also make an appointment over the phone by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC.