SC senators push legislation to vaccinate teachers quickly

East Alabama teachers receiving COVID-19 vaccine
East Alabama teachers receiving COVID-19 vaccine((Source: WTVM))
Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 9:03 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster is continuing to say people 65 and older should be vaccinated next in South Carolina.

“We don’t want to stop a single older person from getting that vaccine. We don’t want to put a single younger, healthy person who may die if they don’t get that vaccine. That is the reason,” McMaster said.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) has introduced a joint resolution that would require the Department of Health and Environmental Control to move teachers and school support staff to Phase 1A.

The resolution also requires DHEC and the South Carolina Department of Education to come up with a plan to vaccinate all school staff who want a vaccine to receive it within 30 days of the measure passing. But the same resolution would also require schools to offer five days a week, in-person learning after being vaccinated.

“The only way we are going to get the teachers back in the classroom five days a week is to vaccinate them. If we don’t vaccinate them, they are not going to do it,” Massey said.

McMaster said this resolution would hurt the vaccine rollout and the only way it could be done is if all other vaccine appointments are canceled for the next month.

“That could happen if you vaccinated no one else…that would throw a monkey wrench into the system that’s working now,” he said.

Massey said he wishes he didn’t feel a need to propose this resolution at all, but the slow start for vaccinations is what put the state in this position.

“This vaccination process has had a huge monkey wrench in it from the beginning. We should not be in the situation we are in. We shouldn’t be having to make this decision right now. People who are over 70 years of age shouldn’t be dealing with appointments for the next month anyway. They should already be getting the vaccinations. We are in this position because of poor planning and poor implantation of the planning,” Massey said.

When asked whether teachers would be able to receive the vaccine before the school year is over without this resolution or one like it, Massey said no.

The governor was asked the same question Thursday and said that depends on how many vaccine doses arrive in the state over the next few weeks.

“Whatever comes in, we need to be sure that we take care of those who are at most risk first,” McMaster said. “If we have a lot of vaccine come in with the organization that we have set up now that’s growing every day, we should be able to accommodate those who want to come in.”

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