Gov. Stitt Delivers on Promise to Prioritize Teachers for COVID Vaccine Well Ahead of Biden Schedule
Governor Kevin Stitt is praising the Oklahoma State Department of Health and local county health departments for ensuring all teachers had the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Spring Break.
“As soon as vaccines became available, we took steps to make teachers and school support staff a priority,” said Gov. Stitt. “I am thrilled that we reached our goal of making the vaccine available to all Oklahoma educators by Spring Break and continue to be proud of our team at OSDH and public health workers across the state who are helping us continue leading the nation in our vaccine rollout.”
Gov. Stitt first moved teachers up on the priority list on Dec. 17, just three days after the first Pfizer vaccines arrived in Oklahoma. He then announced on Feb. 11 that teachers and support staff would become eligible for the vaccine on Feb. 22 with the goal of every teacher having the option to receive the vaccine before Spring Break.
Since then, OSDH has worked with every school system in the state and met that goal ahead of schedule. Oklahoma is also considerably ahead of the vaccination schedule set by the Biden Administration, which did not make teachers a priority until March 2.
“Without Governor Stitt’s relentless focus on getting kids back in school, Oklahoma teachers would be still waiting for the vaccine like they are in other states,” said Secretary of Education Ryan Walters. “Oklahomans are so thankful for the job our teachers are doing during this challenging year and I am grateful to see the results from the governor’s early decision to prioritize them for this vaccine.”
Educators across Oklahoma echoed Sec. Walters’ sentiments.
“Governor Stitt was absolutely correct when he said kids need to be in school and we are grateful for his decision to move teachers up in the line to receive the vaccine,” said Zaneis Public Schools Superintendent Ryan Cole. “This early action showed his steadfast commitment to doing what’s best for students and now our kids can safely return to the classroom with their teachers and their peers.”
Dalton Savage, a history teacher at Edmond Memorial High School, added, “Teaching in a worldwide pandemic has been a challenge for all of us. From distance learning to blended learning to in-person learning, teachers have been working in overdrive to meet the needs of our students. I was thankful to have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 22 and that Governor Stitt prioritized teachers in the state’s distribution plan.”
“Being in the classroom with our kids is the reason teachers do what we do, and it has been a tough year,” said Kamy Patterson, an English teacher at Savanna High School. “I am grateful to Governor Stitt for prioritizing teachers as well as the state health department for its efficiency in getting vaccines to schools across the state so we can safely be back with our students.”
Oklahoma moved into Phase 3 of its vaccine distribution plan earlier this week, expanding eligibility to workers at essential businesses. According to CDC data as of March 11, Oklahoma ranks No. 6 among all states in doses administered per capita.