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Michigan teachers are getting vaccinated. College professors have to wait.

MSU On-Campus
Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 22:40:14-05

MSU CAMPUS — Michigan State University is offering 400 in-person classes this semester.

That doesn't give professors any priority when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Some states, like Arkansas and South Dakota, are treating college professors like K-12 teachers when it comes to allocating vaccines. Michigan is not one of them.

“There's a lot of focus on K-12 educators … it’s really important for that group of essential workers to be vaccinated right away so we can keep those schools open especially with the more contagious variant,” said Mid-Michigan District Health Department Health Officer Marcus Cheatham.

MSU On-Campus
Students on MSU Campus for essential activities. Feb. 2021.

Mick Fulton, who chairs the University Committee on Faculty Affairs at Michgian State, says getting left off the priority guidance could have been an oversight.

“The CDC guidelines specifically mention the K-12 teachers so I think that’s why it was missed,” he said.

Faculty at Michigan State aren’t asking to be first in line, he added.

“They thought it was appropriate that K-12 teachers be vaccinated first because they’re in classrooms starting earlier but they are concerned," Fulton said. "They think they should probably be the group after that,” .

Advocates say teachers of all levels should be a priority group.

“We do believe that the interests of the faculty who are teaching in-person classes do need to be a priority. We think they’re similar to the K-12 teachers in that regard,” said Bob Murphy, chief policy officer with the Michigan Association of State Universities.

The organization asked for the state to reconsider vaccination priorities back in December.

“We know that the state’s aware of our request and that they were considering it. We don’t know what they will do at this time, we’re just kind of waiting to hear back,” Murphy said.

Ingham County Health Department Vaccine
A nurse at the Ingham County Health Department Vaccination Center draws a dose from the Pfizer vaccine into a syringe to be used.

MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen says while the university continues to support the association’s lobbying efforts, they know it will be at the discretion of state supply.

In the meantime, faculty and students are still under increased physical distancing restrictions that limit non-essential gatherings on and off-campus after the start of the spring semester brought an uptick in case rates.

Professors will get their chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine at about the same time as anyone else in their age groups.

“It’s coming slower than we thought. I do think it could late March or early April before we finish those 1A, 1B vaccinations,” Cheatham said.

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