State health officials will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to teachers, licensed child care providers, classroom aides and others starting Monday after being required to do so by the White House.
Those who will become eligible Monday include teachers and staff from pre-K through high school, child care centers, Head Start and Early Start programs, said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer of the Indiana State Department of Health.
Additionally, licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers, as well as classroom aides, bus drivers, janitors, counselors, administration staff, cafeteria workers and substitute teachers also will be eligible starting Monday.
Vaccination appointments can be scheduled on the state’s online portal, ourshot.in.gov, or by calling 211.
The announcement came after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials resisted calls for weeks to prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccines as at least 27 other states had done, including Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
It also came a week after President Joe Biden directed pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to make teachers eligible for vaccines.
Indiana had been almost entirely basing vaccine eligibility on age and certain underlying medical conditions, rather than prioritizing teachers and other essential workers.
On Wednesday, Holcomb said the move “wasn’t a 180 on our part.”
“(The White House) made it available through the federal pharmacy program, but they have since directed, required states to prioritize teachers,” Holcomb said during a press briefing Wednesday. “The administration, our federal partners, have said you need to add in (teachers) to any (vaccination) site, and so we will do that.”
Last month, state health officials in Indiana said they would crack down on COVID-19 vaccination sites that had allowed teachers and others to jump the line and get vaccinated before they were eligible.
The statement came after several teachers across the state posted on social media that they were vaccinated after being placed on wait lists put in place in case someone didn’t show up for a vaccine appointment.
In January, the Indiana State Teachers Association called for state leaders to prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccines after the state health officials announced plans to distribute vaccines by age groups.