Recent changes made by the state Department of Health (DOH) regarding who qualifies for the COVID-19 vaccine mean more than 800 employees of Tacoma Public Schools now qualify for immediate access to the vaccine.
The ability for employees—and others who qualify—to receive vaccinations depends on increasing supplies of the vaccines in the Puget Sound region.
So far, based on information provided by DOH, Tacoma Public Schools has notified approximately 980 district staff members that they now qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine. These staff members include:
- RNs, LPNs, health clerks and any other district employees assigned to support health rooms and isolation rooms at schools
- Employees 65 years or older
- And, as of Jan. 22, staff members who work in self-contained classrooms.
Many other employees also may qualify for the COVID-19 vaccination based on other factors that Tacoma Public Schools does not have access to, because it is private information about its employees.
For example, just this week, DOH announced that you can receive the vaccine immediately if you are 50 years old and older and live in a multigenerational household—where two or more generations, such as an elder and a grandchild, reside.
TPS doesn’t track the living arrangements of employees. Tacoma Public Schools encourages all district staff members to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible.
How do you know if you qualify to receive the vaccine?
The DOH has created an online survey tool called “Phase Finder.” The survey asks a series of personalized questions then provides you with a printable vaccine voucher to take to a vaccination clinic if you are eligible now to receive the vaccine. If you are not immediately eligible, Phase Finder alerts you that you have to wait for a future phase to receive the vaccine.
Meanwhile, on Jan. 18 the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction issued a letter to all school districts across the state directing districts to prepare for a future phase of vaccinations when all remaining school and district employees can receive the vaccine.
The TPS Emergency Operations Command, under Superintendent Carla Santorno’s leadership, already has begun work on the preparations in collaboration with DOH and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. The preparations include:
- Identifying district COVID-19 Supervisor Thu Ament as the point of contact for OSPI to help expedite connections between our district and vaccine providers.
- Establishing plans to possibly use school district facilities as vaccination sites.
- Establishing preliminary vaccination schedules in partnership with providers.
OSPI noted that “there is not an estimated timeline for how long it will take before” the phase when all school and district employees will begin.
About Tacoma Schools
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...