President Biden on Tuesday announced a new effort to vaccinate educators and childcare workers as a means to accelerate the safe reopening of schools.
The president is directing all U.S. states to prioritize educators in their vaccination efforts, a decision that some have already made on their own.
“My challenge to all states, territories and the District of Columbia is this, we want every educator, school staff member, childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March,” Biden said.
To assist that effort, starting next week the federal pharmacy program will prioritize the vaccination of pre-K through grade 12 educators and staff. During the month of March, these individuals will be able to sign up to receive a shot at a nearby pharmacy.
BIDEN SAYS COVID-19 VACCINES WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR ALL US ADULTS BY END OF MAY
Biden has set a goal of reopening a majority of K through 8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. He reiterated on Tuesday that he believes schools can be reopened without a vaccinated workforce, but acknowledged anxieties among parents and educators.
The president also pushed for senators to approve the American Rescue Plan, which contains about $130 billion to help reopen schools safely.
“Right now, an entire generation of young people is on the brink of being set back a year or more in their learning,” the president said.
“Despite the optimism, without new resources our entire effort will be set back,” he added. “We need the resources in the American Rescue Plan and we need it urgently.”
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Biden also announced on Tuesday that Merck and Johnson & Johnson will work together to producer the latter company’s vaccine, which will help give the U.S. enough doses to vaccinate all American adults by the end of May.
The president also cautioned that the possibility still remains for things to get “worse again” in the fight against the virus, particularly as new variants spread.
“We’re making progress from the mess we inherited – we’re moving in the right direction,” Biden said. “But I have to be honest with you, this fight is far from over.”