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RTA president adds voice to call for teacher vaccinations

AstraZeneca was originally going to be used to vaccinate essential workers, but that plan was cancelled.
Liz Baverstock is president of the Richmond Teachers' Association

The Richmond Teachers’ Association (RTA) is adding its voice to other teacher locals in Vancouver Coastal Health in urging the provincial government to vaccinate teachers.

The original plan was to vaccinate essential workers – for example, teachers, first responders and grocery store workers – with the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of April. But concerns over rare cases of blood clots in younger people immunized with this vaccine put a halt on the employee vaccination program.

Other vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – are currently being administered by age group with those 65 and older now eligible.

In a press release on Friday, the teacher groups in VCH called on the government to “vaccinate school staff in districts with high numbers of school exposures.”

Liz Baverstock, RTA president, said teachers have been collaborative, patient and understanding during the pandemic.

She said the government should focus vaccination efforts on teachers who spend five hours a day with 24 to 30 kids.

Furthermore, the province has said it’s important to have schools open for kids’ mental health and learning, she added.

Baverstock said it’s time to rethink the age-based system and focus on people who are in contact with the public daily.

“Case numbers are going up so what are you doing to help the very people who are in classes and other work places every day,” she said, noting the vaccination strategy has been adjusted previously.

“Isn’t it time to pivot?” she added.

B.C. reported record numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past two days, topping 1,200 on Thursday and Friday.

Renee Willock, president of the West Vancouver Teachers’ Association said, in a press release Friday, those who work in schools should be given priority since the variants seem to infect younger people more and seem to be more contagious.

“We have heard reports of Pfizer and Moderna being used to target localized hot spots in B.C., and we’d like to see that extended to school staff,” she said.

While there have been more than 100 school exposures in Richmond schools since September, the superintendent has reported on several occasions that there have been “no known transmissions” of COVID-19 within the school district.