Nearly 80% of school staff and childcare workers have received at least a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, bolstering President Joe Biden’s efforts to reopen schools shuttered by the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that approximately 8 million teachers, school staff members, and other childcare workers got their first dose by the end of March. A federal push to give such workers priority access to vaccines “paid off and paved the way” for a return to in-person education, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said.
“CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue expanding our vaccination efforts, as we work to ensure confidence in COVID-19 vaccines,” Walensky said.
Though Biden could not tell state authorities who to prioritize in their vaccine rollout programs, his administration made clear he wanted to put school staff on the forefront in order to reopen schools. Less than half the states were including teachers in their early vaccination rollout, Vice President Kamala Harris told TODAY in February.
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“They should be able to teach in a safe place and expand the minds and the opportunities of our children,” Harris said at the time. “So teachers should be a priority along with other front-line workers.”
A survey from the National Education Association released in February showed that 70% of educators “would feel safer about working in-person” if they were vaccinated.
The CDC’s update on the vaccination numbers comes as Biden announced Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by April 19. There would be no more confusing rules or restrictions, Biden said, while still urging Americans to remain vigilant as vaccinations roll out.
“The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight think we are at the finish line already," Biden said. "Let me be deadly earnest with you, we aren't finished.”
More than 168 million doses have been administered across the U.S., though only about 63 million people are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data Tuesday afternoon.
NBC News has created a tool called Plan Your Vaccine to provide information on each state's COVID-19 vaccination efforts as the rollout extends across the nation.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.