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Teachers continue to push for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization

A new survey by the National Education Association finds that most members would feel safer if they got the vaccine.

HOUSTON — Sheldon ISD elementary school teacher Nicky Irvin recently got the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I feel very fortunate to have gotten that done,” Irvin said.

She has preexisting conditions, qualifying her to get the vaccine.

“I actually have an autoimmune issue. Lupus,” Irvin said.

She said she wishes colleagues without health issues had access to the vaccine, too.

“I think we need to be identified as frontline workers," Irvin said. "We are in the building with students and, unfortunately, we can’t control the virus.”

A survey of teachers nationwide done by their largest union, the National Education Association, found that 85% think they should be prioritized.

"Our educators all over this country want nothing more than to be in-person with their students,” NEA President Betty Pringle said.

Pringle, who spoke with KHOU 11 from Washington, said far too many teachers don’t feel safe.

"Over 70% of them want to receive the vaccine," Pringle said. "But, as of now, only 18% of them have gotten that vaccine.”

Pringle believes many districts that started in-person learning early in the academic year, like most of those in the Houston area, have proper protocols in place. But the vaccine would provide a much better layer of protection.

However, Texas is among the states where teachers don’t qualify for the first two phases of vaccine distribution unless they meet certain criteria.

"And so what we are calling for is what the CDC as well as what President (Joe) Biden have said," Pringle said. "And that is to put educators on that list.”

It's a list on which Irvin would like all of her fellow educators included.

"Lots of people are anxious here and everywhere,” said Irvin.

More on the NEA's survey here:

Vast majority of educators say they will feel safer about working in-person as a result of the vaccine.