The Government of Alberta is ignoring the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization by not prioritizing frontline workers for COVID-19 vaccines, says the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
“This government sent teachers back to packed classrooms without adequate protections and now refuses to prioritize their access to the most important tool to prevent possible infection and spread,” ATA president Jason Schilling said a statement Friday.
“Just (Thursday) Health Minister Tyler Shandro said decisions would be based on the recommendations of NACI and today they are ignoring those recommendations.”
NACI identifies frontline workers as a key population in Stage 2 of COVID vaccination.
The provincial government’s plan released this past week instead prioritizes in Phase 2 over a million other Albertans who do not face additional impacts, vulnerabilities or increased exposure risk, the ATA said.
“Teachers, other school employees and, frankly, every frontline worker in the province have been working diligently to support the lives and livelihoods of Albertans. The Government of Alberta has an obligation to protect them and today they failed to uphold that obligation,” said Schilling.
Schilling said he has been pressing the minister of education and other government officials for months to consider education staff as a priority for vaccination.
The call for prioritizing education staff was also reiterated by many school boards, including Alberta’s large four metro boards, whose schools, particularly large high schools, have been regularly disrupted this year by infections, spread, quarantines and isolation orders, the ATA said.
“Give us the tools and teachers will keep schools open and ensure that student learning continues – priority access to immunization for teachers is essential if Alberta is to return to a new normal and protect the physical, social and economic wellbeing of the entire community as this pandemic continues to evolve,” said Schilling.