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81% of teachers vaccinated or have appointments, according to union survey

A new survey of educators by the nation’s second-largest teachers union shows as of April 1 at least 81% of educators had been vaccinated for COVID-19 or were scheduled to get their shots, according to data shared with CBS News by the union. 

This latest metric is a measure of progress made toward President Biden’s call in early March to prioritize vaccinations for teachers by April 1, but also indicates a portion of educators are still waiting for their vaccinations.

“Let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is,” Mr. Biden said in his March 2 address, “And that means getting essential workers who provide that service — educators, school staff, child-care workers — get them vaccinated immediately. They’re essential workers.”

“We want every educator, school staff member, childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March,” Mr. Biden added. 

At the time of the president’s directive, 30 states were already prioritizing teachers for vaccinations. The president is scheduled to visit a vaccination site in Virginia on Tuesday afternoon.  

FILE: Mar. 4, 2021: People in vehicles arrive for Covid-19 shots on campus at California State University of Los Angeles. Vaccines for teachers and people in Education began this day at the FEMA-operated vaccine site, with vaccines admininstered by members of the National Guard.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Of the 18% of educators who have not yet been vaccinated or don’t yet have an appointment, about half — 48% — say they do not plan to get a shot, according to the survey, citing hesitancy about vaccines, lack of research, or the desire for more information. This means about 10% of total educators in the survey said they will not be vaccinated.

The nationwide survey of members of the American Federation of Teachers, conducted by Hart Research, also showed 85% of educators are conducting some form of in-person instruction, either full or part time, with 14% of respondents saying they are still solely teaching virtually.

They were also asked if teachers and students should be required to get the vaccine to return to school.

If COVID-19 vaccines are determined to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46% of educators in the survey said vaccinations should be required for students, and 44% said they should not, barring medical and religious exemptions.

Most educators — 50% —  also said they did not believe vaccinations should be required to return to the workplace, while 43% said it should be a requirement, according to the survey.

“There is still a race between the vaccine and the variants,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. “But this polling shows AFT members know the importance of in school learning. They want to return, the roadmap to reopening is robust and if we instill trust and meet fear with facts we can finally end this national nightmare.”

Sixty percent of educators in the survey also said their schools had a COVID-19 testing program.

The survey included 57% of self-identified Democrats and 17% self-identified Republicans, was conducted from March 26 to April 1 and has a margin of error of 3.4% for the K-12 educator respondents.  

Weijia Jiang contributed to this report. 

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