POST 134. February 24, 2021. CORONAVIRUS. The first tranche of the J&J (single dose) vaccine must go to K-12 teachers, so schools can open safely in the first 100 days of the Biden Administration. The federal government…”can set up its own vaccination centers in regions with eligible populations it’s trying to target.” We owe our front-line teachers nothing less!

to read POSTS 1-133 in chronological order, highlight and click on

“Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, U.S. regulators said, a key milestone on the path toward giving Americans access to the first such shot to work in a single dose.

The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S.-based porti.on of a global study that enrolled more than 43,000 people, Food and Drug Administration staff wrote in a document that summarized the company’s results and confirmed findings J&J released earlier this month.

The shot was highly effective against severe disease in all regions where it was tested and worked better against mutant coronavirus strains than previously reported, the document showed.

There were no Covid-related deaths among people who received the vaccine in the trial, the FDA staff wrote in their analysis, and no safety concerns that would preclude an emergency-use authorization. The agency lacked data to determine whether the vaccine prevented asymptomatic cases, the report said.” (A)

“President Joe Biden said during a CNN town hall Tuesday that teachers should be moved higher on the list of those who are getting vaccinated against Covid-19…

His comments come amid an ongoing national debate on what the safest way to reopen schools is — and how to best protect educators and staff who are returning to in-person instruction.

So far, 28 states plus Washington, DC, have started allowing all or some teachers and school staff to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Teachers are still not eligible to receive the vaccine as a specific group in 22 states — although some educators might fall into the current age group a state is vaccinating.

And some experts have been at odds about how big of a priority vaccines are when it comes to returning to class.

In its school reopening guidelines released last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined five key Covid-19 mitigation strategies including the universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and improving ventilation; and contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

Vaccines and testing were not among the “key” strategies the agency lays out, but rather “additional layers” of Covid-19 prevention.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CNN earlier this week that while she’s a “strong advocate of teachers receiving their vaccine,” the agency doesn’t believe it’s a prerequisite for schools to be able to reopen.

But CDC guidance does specify that those who are at a higher risk should have virtual options, the director added.

“We have in the guidance clear language that specifies that teachers that are at higher risk — teachers and students that are higher risk, and their families — should have options for virtual activities, virtual learning, virtual teaching,” Walensky said.

Another expert, emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen, called teacher vaccinations “essential.”

“If we want students to be in school for in-person learning, the least that we can do is to protect the health and well-being of our teachers — especially as in so many parts of the country, teachers are already being made to go back to school in poorly-ventilated, cramped areas, with many students who may not always be masking and practicing physical distancing,” Wen told CNN on Sunday.” (B)

“Vice President Kamala Harris stressed Wednesday that teachers should be given priority for getting Covid-19 vaccinations, but wouldn’t say if she believed that giving them the shots should be a prerequisite for reopening schools…

“Teachers should be a priority,” said Harris, adding that teachers “are critical to our children’s development, they should be able to teach in a safe place and expand the minds and the opportunities of our children. So teachers should be a priority along with other front-line workers.”

Harris said fewer than half the states are prioritizing teachers right now to receive the vaccine….

When asked, Harris wouldn’t say if it a mistake for the CDC to make the recommendation, but only said that it’s merely a recommendation “about how to reopen safely if they’ve been closed, how to stay open if they’ve been opened.”

The vice president also repeated Biden’s statement from Tuesday night at a CNN town hall that his administration’s goal is to get as many K-8 schools reopened within the first 100 days of his presidency, allowing students to attend class five days a week.

“The issue here is not just about statistics — it’s about our kids, it’s about their parents,” Harris said. “It’s about the fact that every day our kids are missing essential, critical days in their educational development.”

“Each day in the life of a child is a very long time,” she continued, “And that’s why we’ve got to collectively do everything in our power to reopen our schools as quickly as possible, as safely as possible.” (C)

“President Joe Biden wants to vaccinate teachers to speed school reopenings, but more than half the states aren’t listening and haven’t made educators a priority — highlighting the limited powers of the federal government, even during a devastating pandemic.

“I can’t set nationally who gets in line, when and first — that’s a decision the states make,” Biden said while touring a Pfizer plant in Michigan on Friday. “I can recommend.”

Under the Constitution, the powers of the federal government are far-reaching but not all-encompassing. States have always retained control over public health and safety, from policing crimes to controlling infectious disease, including distribution of coronavirus vaccines that Washington helped create and whose supply it controls….

The CDC legally can’t force states to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations with any particular priority, said Sarah Gordon, an assistant professor of health law and policy at Boston University.

“They are actually quite limited in what they can do,” Gordon said. “The federalist separation of national versus local public health authority in the U.S. has, repeatedly, hamstrung rapid and effective pandemic response.”

In theory, Biden could cut vaccine supplies to states, which former President Donald Trump threatened to do in response to criticism from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but it would cause an uproar, and the new administration has, instead, chosen a simple formula of allotment based on each state’s adult population. And it can set up its own vaccination centers in regions with eligible populations it’s trying to target.”  (D)

“California is planning to start setting aside 10% of the COVID-19 vaccine the state receives each week to vaccinate teachers, day care workers and other school employees in the hopes of getting more students back in the classroom.

“It must be done, and it must be done much sooner than the current path we are on. And we believe this will advance that cause,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday as he announced the plan at an Oakland vaccination site.

The plan will begin March 1 by setting aside about 75,000 vaccine doses from the state’s current weekly allotment, Newsom said.

The vaccine will be used to inoculate “the ecosystem that is required to reopen our schools for in-person instruction,” including teachers, day care workers and other public school employees, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, Newsom said.” (E)

“As another semester gets under way, more than half of U.S. public school students are learning in front of tablets and laptops, according to the organization Burbio. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to try to open most schools within his first hundred days in office.

And to make opening schools safer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classed school staff as “frontline essential workers” — meaning they’re among the earliest in line to get the new coronavirus vaccines. But access and timelines vary around the country, and some teachers remain worried about coronavirus continuing to spread in schools, even if they themselves can get the shots.

Per federal vaccination guidelines, school personnel — including custodians, food service workers, and bus drivers — along with child care providers, are in category 1b, just after the elderly in long-term care facilities and health care workers.

Grace Lee, the chief medical officer for practice innovation and pediatric infectious disease physician at Stanford Children’s Health, sat on the committee that drew up those recommendations. She said they put education workers so high up on the list because she’s concerned about the social and academic effects of prolonged school closures. “My worry is that some children are being left behind, and that we need to really be able to make sure that there is the opportunity for everyone to be educated.”…

Clarice Brazas teaches humanities, currently online at The U School, a Philadelphia public high school. Brazas says she’ll be happy to get the vaccine, but she’ll still be worried about her students spreading the virus, especially those who use public transportation.

“I work in a really small high school,” she says, “but we’ve already had several students who have either lost parents or whose parents have been hospitalized. A lot of our students live with their grandparents.”

No vaccine has yet been approved for children under 16, and younger people are at the back of the line according to CDC guidelines. Dr. Lee, at Stanford, says that means masks, handwashing, social distancing and ventilation are here to stay for at least the rest of this school year.

“Vaccines in my mind are another layer of protection,” she said. “It doesn’t mean all the other barriers go away, but it does mean that if we add that layer in, it adds a huge degree of protection that does not always depend on everyone being perfect one hundred percent of the time.” (F)

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