Record editorial: Teachers deserve priority placement in Utah’s vaccination effort
Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday put teachers in their place.
That place, appropriately, is near the front of the line to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Teachers, the governor announced, will be included in the state’s first wave of vaccinations, taking their spot behind some hospital workers and alongside first responders and residents in long-term care facilities. Some educators could even get their first dose of the vaccine developed by Pfizer as early as later this month.
Deciding which groups to prioritize — and, just as important, which groups will have to wait — as the vaccination campaign begins in Utah and the rest of the United States is an unenviable task. In an ideal world, there would immediately be enough doses to inoculate everybody, save tens of thousands of lives and end the coronavirus pandemic by the end of the year.
Widespread vaccination, however, is not expected to be possible until well into 2021.
It’s hard to argue that health care workers in Utah’s hospitals treating the most severe COVID-19 cases do not deserve their place as the first to receive the vaccine. And it’s unsurprising that first responders and residents and workers in long-term care facilities will also be included in the initial phase.
Teachers are a more surprising inclusion. Undoubtedly, though, the move is justified. And in Summit County, where teachers in our three school districts have been nothing short of heroic this year, it should be celebrated. Throughout the pandemic, teachers have worked longer hours than ever before, made sacrifice after sacrifice and, in many cases, risked their own safety to keep our students engaged and educated.
Making sure they are among the first people in the state to get vaccinated is a just outcome. And it’s one that will hopefully have another benefit: helping schools keep their doors open through graduation day rather than needing to revert back to online-only education, which was an adequate solution in the spring but lacks so many of the vital benefits of in-person learning.
We can be confident that, whatever the rest of the school year holds, teachers will be ready, working tirelessly on the behalf of our children.
Most of the rest of us still have some waiting to do before getting a vaccine. In the meantime, seeing educators and others who have been on the front lines of the pandemic being inoculated — a development that will represent the first step toward an eventual return to normal life — will be a figurative shot in the arm.
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