When can Shelby County teachers get the COVID vaccine?

Shelby County, Tenn. — Several counties around Memphis are starting to vaccinate teachers against COVID-19.

So, when can Shelby County teachers get the COVID vaccine?

Shelby County teachers made it clear that they’re not comfortable going back into the classrooms until they can get vaccinated.

The county’s health director said right now the department is focusing on getting the 1A1 and 1A2 groups vaccinated before moving into the next category which includes teachers.

Teachers will likely not join those groups until next month or a little earlier depending on supply.

Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter said she is following guidance from the state health department.

Haushalter said it’s essential to get that 70 and older group vaccinated because those are the groups most at risk of contracting or dying from covid.

FOX13 learned Tuesday during the COVID-19 press briefing that about 30-percent of the 75 and up population has been vaccinated so far in Shelby County.

Haushalter said because Shelby County has the largest population in Tennessee, that impacts how quickly we will move into the teacher category.

“We work very closely in partnership with the state health department,” Haushalther said. “Yes we’re an independent metro but we do look to them for guidance. They have a bigger picture view and direct contact with the CDC and their recommendation locally a few weeks ago was not to move to teachers before we completed some of those other categories.”

Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the current rollout plan is not to diminish the value of teachers but to protect the most vulnerable.

“We know that teachers are no more or less important than 70-year old’s but what we do know is that 70 plus-year-olds have exceedingly high risk of hospitalization and death,” Piercey said. “There are also some high-risk teachers and that is why we have prioritized teachers right behind the elderly.”

Surrounding counties are already making announcements about the 1B category which includes teachers.

Davidson County announced Monday that people in that group can start registering to receive the vaccine later this month.

The state is making a big push to partner with AARP and other groups to find ways to support seniors and help them get vaccinated.