Snyder and Bizzarro laud news of decision to include teachers, educators in priority 1A phase for vaccine

HARRISBURG, March 2 – State Reps. Pam Snyder and Ryan Bizzarro, who recently urged the Pennsylvania Department of Health to update the Phase 1A category of vaccine eligibility to include more at-risk populations, today applauded the department’s decision to allow teachers and other education professionals to be included in that category.

Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Westmoreland, and Bizzarro, D-Erie, sent a letter last month to acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Allison Beam urging her to include several at-risk populations –such as teachers, school personnel and corrections officers – into the Phase 1A category to receive the vaccine. That same letter also urged her to implement further changes regarding prioritization, including limiting smokers to only people 65 or older, which would put senior citizens and high-risk workers at the top of the list while still allowing at-risk smokers access. That letter was signed by more than 30 legislators.

“This is certainly good news for our teachers and school staff, many of whom have had to be working in classrooms for some time and in close proximity to our young people and other staffers,” Snyder said. “However, we still have many other employees who should be included in this Phase 1A priority, such as staff at our corrections facilities across Pennsylvania. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it’s imperative we not only vaccinate these and other high-risk populations across our great state and keep health systems alert on any updates or changes to the ongoing vaccine rollout.”

“Pennsylvania teachers and school personnel are expected to work in-person and face this pandemic head-on. Prioritizing their vaccine access is essential to the health, safety and well-being of Pennsylvania families,” Bizzarro said. “When teachers and school staff remain healthy, it will reduce the interruption in educating our children, keep teachers on curriculum and reduce interruption to parents. We’ve seen first-hand the essential role teachers play in educating our children AND giving them a safe place to learn while parents are working. I’ve been strongly advocating for this change and am thrilled to see the administration taking the steps to prioritize our educators and Pennsylvania families. As we continue to improve the vaccine rollout process, they deserve to be among the first to be protected from this virus.”