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'We feel disrespected': Some Indiana teachers push to be added to vaccine eligibility list

Teachers concerned about safety in the classroom
Posted at 7:07 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 19:10:18-05

AVON — Some teachers across the state say they are frustrated they don’t yet qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the current state guidelines, only those working in healthcare or age 65 and older are eligible to get the vaccine.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he plans to expand eligibility in the future based on age and offer it to those most at risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19, but some teachers say they want an opportunity to get the shot.

“When we look at our numbers here we've had 524 positive cases of staff and students the school year, that is in six months. We've had 171 positive cases in the last month. It scares you,” said Suzy Lebo, a teacher at Avon Community Schools and Avon Federation of Teachers President. “We feel disrespected and unappreciated for sure.”

During a press conference this week Holcomb addressed calls to vaccinate educators.

“What I say to teachers is we are trying to be as clear as we can about how we articulate our path going forward, that being said, we are looking at the folks who are most at risk of dying and or being hospitalized,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said data shows that group is Hoosiers age 60 and older, but Lebo says teachers are more at risk of exposure and put in situations others are not.

“It is still scary to come to school every day with kids who are wearing their masks down here, even adults who are wearing their masks as a chin guard,” Lebo said. “Here at the high school, we have 31 kids in a class. My first period class today had 25 kids in it. We’re 18 inches apart.”

Lebo said some teachers are so desperate to get vaccinated, many have started volunteering at vaccination clinics hoping for a chance at a leftover dose at the end of the night.

Teachers in Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky are eligible for the vaccine. Lebo said Indiana is already facing a teacher shortage and she fears this will only make that shortage worse.

“To say, well sorry you're just not important enough for us to vaccinate, we really want kids to stay in school, and we really want you to be in school, and we want kids to be 100% in person," Lebo said. "Just ignore the 524 cases that you've had and just say yep it's fine. You're not gonna get. It's fine, you're fine. It just doesn't fly."