This story was originally published by San Antonio Report and can be found here.
San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez is not waiting for the go-ahead from state officials to offer SAISD staff the coronavirus vaccine.
Martinez announced earlier this month that the school district planned to offer the vaccine to employees who qualify to receive it under state guidelines, such as people over age 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions. San Antonio ISD has paired with South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals (STAAMP) to offer the vaccine at Alamo Stadium, district spokeswoman Laura Short said Wednesday.
Edgewood Independent School District announced Thursday that it has partnered with University Health System to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 100 teachers at the Wonderland Mall of the Americas on Tuesday, according to a press release. The teachers qualify to receive a vaccine under state guidelines.
Superintendent Eduardo Hernández said in a statement that EISD has been striving to offer teachers the vaccines.
“We deeply value our EISD teachers who have had to transition and adjust so frequently to new teaching methods during this pandemic,” he said. “I’m glad we can start with 100 and hope to bring more vaccines to our staff and community.”
No firm date has been set for when SAISD will be able to offer COVID-19 vaccines, but the district is talking to several health care industry partners, including STAAMP, to coordinate staff vaccinations, Short said. STAAMP also is working with other area school districts to offer the vaccine.
“We are working on a strategic plan to manage the rollout, including a registration process that allows prioritized SAISD employees to sign up and receive the time and date of their vaccine administration,” she said. “We will focus on providing the vaccinations on weekends.”
The school district will start offering vaccines to all educators after the employees who qualify to receive the vaccine under state guidelines have been inoculated, Short said.
During a virtual staff town hall Tuesday, Martinez said he expects the vaccine supply to “ramp up” in the coming weeks. He wants the school district to be prepared for when that happens.
“We know that your work is essential, and you’ve done an amazing job of keeping our children safe, keeping our schools safe,” he said to staff members. “We owe it to you to do right by you and to keep you safe.”
Martinez and other area superintendents have advocated for the state to add teachers and other school staff to its list of first-tier priority groups so they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Many school boards have adopted resolutions calling for the same, including Northside, Judson, and Southwest ISDs’ school boards.
Texas’ Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel identified who should receive the coronavirus vaccine first to protect the most vulnerable populations and vital resources, according to the Department of State Health Services website. The panel decided health care workers, frontline workers at greater risk of getting COVID-19 such as emergency medical service providers and others who transport patients to hospitals, adults 65 and older, and chronically ill people who are more likely to contract the disease and die from it should receive the first doses of the vaccine.
The only school staff included in the first round of people to receive the vaccine were school nurses. They are listed alongside outpatient physicians and nurses, pharmacy staff, medical examiners, and morticians. Some SAISD school nurses have been vaccinated, Martinez said.
DSHS expects the vaccine to be available in the spring to people who don’t fall into the established parameters, according to its website. A department spokeswoman said roughly 8 million Texans are eligible to receive the vaccine. The next group has not yet been determined by the expert panel.
Disclosure: South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals is a San Antonio Report business member. Dr. Erika Gonzalez, who practices at STAAMP, sits on the San Antonio Report board of directors.