NEA: Nearly half of educators got at least one COVID-19 shot

Oconee County Schools employees, including the school system's Chief Operations Officer Brock Toole, receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine RN Heather Morgan on Monday, March 8, 2021 at the Piedmont Atlanta Regional Oconee Health Campus in Watkinsville.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Oconee County Schools employees, including the school system's Chief Operations Officer Brock Toole, receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine RN Heather Morgan on Monday, March 8, 2021 at the Piedmont Atlanta Regional Oconee Health Campus in Watkinsville. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

New survey by the nation’s largest union shows rise in teachers who have been vaccinated

About half of educators, 49%, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to a new survey by the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union representing nearly 3 million members.

In a NEA survey of members a month earlier, only one in five had been vaccinated against COVID-19, so the new results show a significant jump. As with the last survey, black NEA members still lag whites and Latinos in their vaccine rate. While 51% of whites and 49% of Latinos reported at least one COVID vaccine dose, only 35% of Blacks did.

Other analyses have also shown that Blacks are less likely to be vaccinated than whites. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data updated March 12 show people of color are about 2.9 times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than whites and nearly twice as likely to die of the disease.

The NEA poll, which was conducted by GBAO Strategies, surveyed more than 3,000 NEA members between Feb. 26 and March 4. Among the findings:

An additional 36% of educators have scheduled, or intend to schedule, their vaccination.

86% believe educators should be prioritized to receive the vaccine.

Most members (87%) are willing to work in-person if they are fully vaccinated.

There have been improvements in awareness of how to get vaccinated.

Among those who have been vaccinated or plan to be, 61% had some difficulty with scheduling compared to 67% in last month's survey.

The percentage of members who found it very difficult to get scheduled declined from 46 to 34%.

The poll finds NEA members favor a range of policies to safeguard school buildings, including near universal support for requiring masks and other protective equipment, requiring those who test positive to isolate according to CDC guidelines, thorough cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and improving ventilation in buildings. Three-fourths of respondents report their schools now have educators in buildings all or part of the time, compared to 64% last month.

“While the vaccinations will certainly make educators safer and better able to protect their students and loved ones, they are just one part of the solution,” said NEA President Becky Pringle in a statement Wednesday night. “We must ensure our schools have updated ventilation systems. We must provide our educators with the necessary PPE. We must continue to prioritize other mitigation strategies according to the CDC guidance including wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing, healthy school buildings, and a system of testing, tracing, and quarantining.”

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