Unlike dozens of states across America, Texas leaders opted not to prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine. But the decision came just as those same leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott (R), pushed for a return to in-person learning, making teachers among those at highest risk for encountering the virus.
"It’s not if I’m going to get it (COVID-19) but when, when am I going to get it,” said Fort Worth ISD Assistant Speech and Language Pathologist Kathryn Gerred.
Gerred said she frequently sees dozens of students over the course of the day and despite being registered for the vaccine since December and having two pre-existing conditions, she has not been able to be inoculated.
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“I think the whole system is flawed, I know people that have gone to an eye appointment and received the vaccine, I don’t get it,” Gerred said.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
As the state begins to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines for those in Phase 1A and 1B, county health departments have begun waitlists for those wish to be inoculated.
You can now register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
And Gerred is far from alone, the vast majority of educators across North Texas are not yet eligible for the vaccine despite their heightened risk.
“You just get up and you say a prayer and decide you aren’t going to live in fear and kind of put one foot in front of the other,” said Hope Lee, who teaches at Dallas ISD.
The Texas State Teachers Association has called on state leaders to either prioritize teachers or allow school districts to return to virtual learning without penalty. Additionally, they have publicly lobbied for the state to hand over the decision on whether to prioritize teachers to local governments.
“We believe in this case at least when it comes to the health of local communities that those local communities should be able to call the shots,” said Clay Robison with the Texas State Teachers Association.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has said he supports moving vulnerable educators to the front of the line. Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine is determined by a state panel of advisors, including lawmakers, state and local health officials and medical experts.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.