“We’re constantly looking at our supply and what our anticipated supply is,” he added.
But a small amount has become available, he confirmed Wednesday, to start distributing to some school staff early, aligning more closely with the original timetable. He did not specify whether the doses were reallocated from a previous group of recipients or whether they are part of an additional shipment.
Hudachko also declined to say how many doses that newly available vaccine will include for education employees statewide.
Salt Lake County’s health department, though, said it has roughly 7,000 to 8,000 set aside to administer to school personnel next week. The second dose is not counted as part of that and is ordered separately, said the spokesperson there, Nicholas Rupp.
“It’s not enough for all school staff. They won’t all be vaccinated next week,” Rupp added, noting the county includes five public districts, as well as private, parochial and charter employees.
The rollout for school staff will continue forward in this kind of piecemeal system — with supplies calculated week to week — rather than the state being able to collect enough to vaccinate all at roughly the same time, as it had hoped, Rupp said.
With that, Hudachko acknowledged it’s not clear if vaccine recipients will be prioritized based on underlying health conditions or age or district. The county health department won’t be doing that, Rupp said; and the state health department has not made any decisions to put more vulnerable individuals or harder-hit schools first.
That decision has unraveled negotiations with the state to provide bonuses for Salt Lake City teachers, too, as part of the exchange for opening on Feb. 8 — roughly a week after employees originally would have gotten their second dose.
Yándary Chatwin, the spokesperson for the district, said Wednesday that the announcement of the limited vaccine supply for school staff doesn’t yet change the recent plans to postpone face-to-face learning.
The district, she said, has not heard from the state or county health departments about the doses, or from Community Nursing Services, the company Rupp said was hired to administer them. “We haven’t heard anything new today,” Chatwin added.
If the staff in the district, as a whole, are prioritized to get the vaccine first, Salt Lake City’s secondary schools may reopen as originally planned, she noted. But, if not, they will continue to stay closed, as the board voted, until all teachers there have a chance to get immunized.
The elementary schools will move forward with returning beginning on Jan. 25, unaffected by the vaccinations.
The teachers union for the district has said the money is not a priority for educators there; they are more concerned about their health during the pandemic.
Granite, Canyons, Jordan and Murray school districts are also located in the county and the available doses could be split among them, too.
Vaccine will be available for some Utah teachers next week. But it’s unclear who will get the first doses. /p>