A bill that would vaccinate teachers in phase 1-A debated in House committee Monday

COLUMBIA (WOLO): A bill that, if passed, would allow South Carolina teachers and school staff to move to phase 1-A in vaccine distribution, was debated in house committee Monday. House members mostly seemed in favor of this bill and getting our teachers vaccinated. However, a question of how it can be done with an ongoing vaccine supply issue in our state. 

When asked if Governor McMaster would sign this bill, along with a plan to return to 5 day face to face learning, if it came to his desk, he didn’t immediately answer yes or no, continuing to stand by his belief on not prioritizing South Carolina teachers when it comes to COVID-19.

The vaccine needs to go to the people most in need of the vaccine. Those are the elderly, those are the older people. The elderly need to be vaccinated first and that is the principal we’ve been following. We will not be vaccinating a younger, healthier person, ahead of an older person who may die,” said McMaster at the State House Monday.

The bill passed unanimously in the senate last week. Educators say they’re happy with the quick pace of the legislation, and urge legislators to consider staffing issues in our schools.

“In one Midlands district right now, there are 21 teachers on medical leave as a result of COVID. And on an average day they have about 84 teachers out, either due to quarantine or contracting COVID,” explained one educator who spoke to the committee Monday.

Another said, “I can tell you without a doubt that schools can not function as they should without vaccine access.Vaccinated educators means fewer cases of COVID entering our buildings, as well as limiting the number of educators that can’t report to work due to exposure.”

Teachers asked, not to be put ahead of South Carolina’s elderly, but rather to be vaccinated at the same time. “I’ll point to the more than 25 states that have figured out how to do both including Kentucky that this week will administer 2nd doses of vaccine to every interested teacher in the state. So if other states can figure out how to solve this problem I know for a fact South Carolina can do it.”

However, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford questioned how this bill would not pose an either-or situation, and pointed to supply issues in our state. “Given its current constraints, 1-A would put the teachers in the same category as the elderly. So if they are getting access to vaccines that the elderly can’t get, how is it not and either-or,” said Rutherford. 

 

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