The CDC Director Just Said This COVID Precaution Isn't Necessary
This isn't a coronavirus recommendation the director will be endorsing.
The coronavirus has spread to more than 26 million Americans over the past year, and it is has yet to be contained. Through it all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been guiding Americans through the pandemic, recommending COVID protocols and precautions to help diminish the virus' spread. The agency has helped with recommendations on masks, social distancing, vaccinations, and more. However, the CDC director just said that one COVID precaution may not actually be necessary after all. Read on to find out what mitigation measure won't be recommended, and for more on protecting yourself from the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci Just Said This Is the Only Safe Way to Eat at a Restaurant.
The CDC director said that vaccinating teachers before reopening schools isn't necessary.
During a White House news briefing on Feb. 3, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said that schools appear safe to reopen, even if all teachers have not yet been vaccinated against COVID. "There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen," she said. "Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools."
Walensky referenced data to support this assessment, which can be seen in a recently released CDC report. On Jan. 29, the CDC released a case study among 17 rural Wisconsin schools and found that among 191 COVID cases identified in studies and staff members, only seven of those cases (all among students) were the result of in-school spread. "With masking requirements and student cohorting, transmission risk within schools appeared low, suggesting that schools might be able to safely open with appropriate mitigation efforts in place," the study concluded. And for more on coronavirus spread, Dr. Fauci Just Said to Avoid Doing This One Thing This Week.
The CDC previously recommended that teachers be included in the second vaccination phase.
Even though Walensky has lessened the concern on vaccinating teachers before the general public, the CDC did recommend that they be in the second vaccination phase. On Dec. 22, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) made recommendations on who should be offered the second round of available vaccinations, after healthcare personnel and long-term care residents. In this recommendation, the ACIP said second priority should be given to those older than 75 years old and non-healthcare frontline essential workers, which includes teachers. And for more vaccination news, If You Live in These States, You Can Get a COVID Vaccine at CVS Next Week.
Many teachers say they won't return to their classrooms until they're able to get vaccinated.
Many teachers have been lobbying for access to vaccinations before returning to school. For instance, teachers in Chicago were supposed to return to their classrooms on Jan. 27, but NBC reported that many continued to work from home and were threatening to strike if forced back before they received the vaccine. "Community spread is still so high in Chicago, and so many people are sick and dying. I don't know how to keep myself safe in an old building with so many people. I don't understand why we have to risk our lives when we're so close to a vaccine," Kirstin Roberts, a preschool teacher at the Brentano Math and Science Academy in Chicago, told NBC.
Even the National Education Association (NEA) is backing up the pleas of teachers. "The National Education Association strongly stands behind educators who have determined that they need access to COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that their workplaces are safer, whether they are currently working in person or will be returning to school buildings," NEA President Becky Pringle, said in a statement. "Educators need to have access to COVID-19 vaccines now, period." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Only a few states are currently vaccinating teachers.
No state requires that all schools be closed, and four states—Iowa, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida—actually require all schools to provide in-person learning, according to EdWeek. However, The New York Times reports that only 17 states have made all teachers within the state eligible for the vaccine. But many of the states that haven't made teachers eligible yet—like Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, and Washington—are already giving vaccine access to adults between the ages of 65 and 74. This age group was recommended to be in the third vaccination phase by the ACIP, after teachers in the second phase. And for more essential vaccine guidance, If You're Over 65, You Shouldn't Get This New Vaccine, Experts Warn.