COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Education wants more information from school districts on their plans to vaccinate teachers and staff.
The school districts across the state have been tasked with submitting plans for vaccinating teachers once the time comes for educators to be eligible. There are two bills being discussed by lawmakers that would move teachers, staff and daycare workers into Phase 1a. They currently fall under Phase 1b of the vaccination plan.
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Ryan Brown, a spokesperson for SCDOE, said it has received a vaccination plan from Horry County Schools and that the district will be working with a few different vaccine providers due to the size of the county.
During a Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) meeting on Wednesday, Brown added that the SCDOE has asked for school districts to submit additional information about their vaccination plans.
He provided WMBF News with a list of questions that school districts are asked to answer:
- How much notice does your partnered vaccine provider(s) need to start vaccines for your district?
- How many vaccines is your partnered vaccine provider(s) willing to provide?
- Are you currently partnering with other school districts?
- What type of clinic does your partnered vaccine provider(s) and your district plan to use to administer vaccines to your eligible staff?
- Where will vaccinations be offered?
- Which vaccination strategy does your district plan to carry out?
Brown said that school districts have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit the answers to the questions.
According to Brown, there are about 122,000 teachers and staff in South Carolina, about 71,000 of them have indicated that they will take the vaccine when it’s offered. He added there are some crossover groups about 3,000-5,000 certified educators are 65 and older, and are already eligible for the vaccine.
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Also, during the VAC meeting, there were concerns about schools having enough people to help administer the vaccine to teachers, especially in rural areas. Brown said the department has had discussions with vaccine providers to make sure there is enough support. He added that they could also receive help from other groups.
“We’ve had some conversations with the athletic trainer association. They told us they have 500 athletic trainers that have gone through the training to administer vaccines so there’s a workforce there that could potentially help we just need to do some matchmaking,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, there were discussions about other communication strategies to spread the word about vaccine-related information.
Brown suggested that school district can help with sending out emails since those go to nearly every parent in the community.
“If schools close for a day, they send that out to parents, and everybody knows. So, there’s no reason we couldn’t use that same infrastructure for getting other important, health-related messages out to vaccinations,” Brown explained.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said that isn’t an avenue that DHEC has explored or considered but believes it will be a good opportunity and helpful tool in communication information about the vaccine and even testing events.