Fauci: ‘Non-workable’ to get every teacher vaccinated to reopen schools

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Anthony Fauci, a medical adviser to President Biden and the government’s leading infectious diseases expert, poured cold water on the prospect of every teacher getting vaccinated for the coronavirus before schools reopen.

Fauci in an interview on CBS Wednesday expressed support for teachers getting bumped up on the priority list for a shot but said their vaccinations should not be a blanket prerequisite for school reopenings.

“I think if you are going to say that every single teacher needs to be vaccinated before you get back to school, I believe quite frankly … that that’s a non-workable situation. I think teachers should absolutely be priority among those who we consider essential personnel, and you should try and get as many teachers as you possibly can vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can,” he said. 

“You want to put a good effort to get as many as you can as quickly as you can, but you don’t want to essentially have nobody in school until all the teachers get vaccinated.”

The remarks come amid a national debate over how and when to reopen schools. Republicans have advocated for an aggressive approach to open their doors, while Democrats, lobbied heavily by teachers’ unions, have advocated for a more cautious approach.

The White House has sent out mixed signals on how it plans to send students back into the classroom on a consistent basis. Biden clarified at a town hall Tuesday that his goal is to have the majority of elementary and middle schools physically reopened five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office. 

The White House had previously said its goal was to have most schools open for at least one day of in-person learning each week. Critics noted that the goal had already been largely reached. Biden on Tuesday blamed a “mistake in the communication” for the crossed signals. 

Biden also expressed support Tuesday for moving teachers up on the priority list for a vaccine, saying, “we should move them up in the hierarchy.”

He also said widespread use of protective gear such as masks and smaller pods in which students take classes would help in the effort to safely reopen schools.

When asked when the vaccine would be broadly available to the general public, Fauci said the target is for July, when vaccines from Johnson & Johnson will be available, in addition to those from Pfizer and Moderna. 

“We were hoping that it would be by the end of April, but what has happened is that the doses that we were expecting earlier from the J&J likely will not be available for a couple of months after that. The ultimate number of doses that J&J will get us, we’re pretty confident that we’re going to get 100 million doses by the end of June, the beginning of July,” he said.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 Joe Biden school reopening Vaccination

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