Biden calls on all states to vaccinate teachers by end of March

Biden calls on all states to vaccinate teachers by end of March
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President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE said Tuesday he is calling on all states to prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccinations so that all teachers and school staff will have received at least one dose by the end of March. 

"My challenge to all states, territories and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, child care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March," Biden said in remarks from the White House. 

He noted that more than 30 states have already prioritized teachers for vaccinations but said he is using the "full authority of the federal government" in "directing every state to do the same."

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He did not elaborate on what that authority is, though he did say the federal government will use its partnership with pharmacies across the country to allow teachers to get vaccinated at their local pharmacies throughout the month of March.  

"Our goal is to do everything we can to help every educator receive a shot this month, the month of March," Biden said. 

Biden has been under intense criticism from Republicans for not doing enough to urge schools to reopen given evidence that they can do so safely with precautions such as mask wearing and distancing. 

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance last month that teacher vaccinations "should not be considered a condition" for reopening schools. 

Biden acknowledged this but pointed to "anxieties" among teachers and parents. 

"We can reopen schools if the right steps are taken even before employees are vaccinated, but time and again, we've heard from educators and parents that have anxieties about that," Biden said. "So as yet another move to help accelerate the safe reopening of our schools, let's treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is."

The school vaccination push comes as supply of vaccines ramps up, easing shortages. Biden separately announced Tuesday that the country will have enough doses for every U.S. adult by the end of May.