Dr. Arwady says vaccination of CPS teachers not necessary for safe return

“I don’t want people to think the vaccine is somehow necessary to make that setting safe, because what we have seen is that with that good mitigation, those settings do not put people at increased risk of COVID exposure,” Arwady said.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says it would not make sense to try to vaccinate all Chicago Public School teachers before re-starting in-person instruction.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says it would not make sense to try to vaccinate all Chicago Public School teachers before re-starting in-person instruction. Photo credit City of Chicago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- As the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union wrangle over the start of in-person learning for K-through 8th graders, the Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner it would not make sense to try to vaccinate all CPS teachers before restarting in-person instruction.

The Chicago Teachers Union has been pushing to have teachers vaccinated before they wind up in front of classrooms full of students, but CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that’s not feasible given the 34,000 COVID vaccine doses the city is getting on average per week.

"Literally, with how quickly we’re receiving vaccine, if we were like, 'let’s just get all the educators done', we would stop vaccinating everybody else for about five weeks," she said. "That would give us five weeks of vaccinating people who, frankly, although they are critical for—you know how important schools are, that’s why they’re in 1B—we wouldn’t be actually vaccinating the people that will get us past COVID as a city, right?"

Dr. Arwady pointed out there are about 142,000 educators in the city, but for now the highest-risk seniors should be prioritized.

“One hundred percent of teachers are in there,” Arwady said. “We want them vaccinated, we’ve got plans, we’ve got vaccine that’s being directed toward them, but we can’t stop the vaccination in all these other settings.”

Dr. Arwady said teachers are eligible to get the vaccine now, but they’ll have to make appointments to get it, just like first responders and those who are 65 and older.

She also defended CPS' school reopening plan and cited studies from other school systems, including one that came out this week from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials, that said schools can potentially reopen safely during the pandemic with mitigation measures in place.

“I don’t want people to think the vaccine is somehow necessary to make that setting safe, because what we have seen is that with that good mitigation, those settings do not put people at increased risk of COVID exposure,” Arwady said.