OLYMPIA (March 3, 2021) — Washington State Labor Council President Larry Brown issued the following statement today in response to directives from President Joe Biden and Gov. Jay Inslee to allow educators and childcare workers to be immediately eligible for COVID-19 vaccination:
“The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which represents some 500,000 union members across the state, strongly believes that all of Washington’s essential workers who must work in congregate settings should be prioritized in the state’s vaccination distribution plan. Right now, there are many essential frontline workers who are putting themselves — and their families — in harm’s way every single day just by going to work.
“The latest scientific evidence shows that vaccination not only keeps people from getting severely ill, it also slows the spread of the virus. The best way to protect the most people quickly is to increase vaccination rates in settings where people have no choice but to congregate together. And that means allowing all public-facing essential workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Until there is enough vaccine for all essential workers, we understand that impossible choices are being made. No essential worker wants to displace older citizens and those who face the greatest risk of severe illness or death. But with the Biden Administration anticipating that 120 million more doses will be shipped to the states this month and with the recent approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine, it is our hope that ALL public-facing essential workers can get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Gov. Inslee issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon following President Joe Biden’s directive that all states must prioritize vaccinations of teachers and childcare workers.
“Like President Biden, I am grateful for the hard work and sacrifice of educators every day, and especially during this pandemic. The president has directed us to add preK-12 educators, school staff and licensed childcare workers to our current vaccine prioritization. This directive will be carried out through existing providers and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which operates through national pharmacies and independent pharmacy chains.
“Therefore, we are adding educators and licensed childcare workers to Washington’s Phase 1B-1 immediately. The Washington State Department of Health will have more specific information soon on how those workers can access vaccines. Phase Finder may take time to reflect these changes, but educators and licensed childcare workers can schedule with providers right away.
“The good news is that schools will be able to open and we are pleased that teachers will be back in the classroom. This should give educators more confidence to return to in-person learning and that it can be done with the safety protocols that are being used by 1,400 other schools in our state right now.
“We will continue the current state plans and goals to focus on those most at risk, including older adults and those facing the greatest equity gaps.
“To that end, I will soon be announcing when our state vaccine prioritization will be moving to include critical workers in certain congregate settings including those who work in grocery stores, farmworkers, food processors, bus drivers, corrections workers and others.
“We will continue our progress in getting every Washingtonian vaccinated. I am grateful for the partnership of the federal government and their efforts to help move educators up in the prioritization.”
The Stand (Jan. 22) — WSLC offers COVID vaccination resource for union members — Website and workshop focus on protecting members by educating them about vaccination.