FAQ on COVID-19 Vaccine for School Employees

MEA has compiled answers to these frequently asked questions about the new COVID-19 vaccine as it relates to school employees.  For general Q&As (including about vaccine distribution, phases, safety, and more) check out the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) COVID-19 Vaccine webpage and the Michigan Public Vaccine FAQ.

Q:  Are school employees being prioritized for receiving the new COVID-19 vaccine?

A:  Yes. Based on CDC’s vaccination phases, Michigan has created a priority order for distribution of the vaccine and includes school employees in Phase 1-B, along with other essential workers.  The relevant section of the MDHHS COVID-19 Vaccination Prioritization Guidance states:

PHASE 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.

Group B: Prioritized frontline workers whose work role has frequent or intense exposure, and, due to the nature of the work, are not able to maintain social distance. For example, a first responder may have to physically touch other people in their response, and a child care provider cannot maintain social distance from children when caring for their physical needs. The specific prioritized categories are:

• Pre-Kindergarten through high school teachers, support staff and child care workers who usually have direct contact with children

Q:  When do we anticipate the vaccine being available to school employees?

A:  On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that eligible school employees could begin receiving the vaccine on Monday, Jan. 11, as part of a partial start to Phase 1B.

Q: Will the vaccine be available to all school employees when it’s made available, or will it only go to teachers?

A: Based on the definition outlined above – involving “direct contact with children” – all employees who work in K-12 school buildings with students meet the criteria for vaccination in Phase 1-B.

Q: How will school employees be scheduled for a vaccination? Will nurses/public health professionals come to individual schools to administer?

A: Vaccine distribution will be coordinated through county public health agencies, who will work with employers to make appointments for employees to receive the vaccine. Educators should NOT go to a clinic to be vaccinated without an appointment.  Two shots of the vaccine (administered three- to four-weeks apart) are needed maximum protection, and safety measures should still be followed (including proper masking and social distancing).

Q: Can my employer require that I receive the vaccine?

A: Health and safety issues are mandatory subjects of bargaining and a vaccine is a health and safety issue. Accordingly, school employers are required to bargain over the terms of a vaccination policy.  Mandating employee vaccination in the absence of bargaining can constitute an unfair labor practice by the employer.

Q: Are higher education faculty/staff included in Phase 1B?

A: No. Phase 1B specifically refers to K-12 school employees and childcare workers. MEA is lobbying for expanded access to vaccination for our higher education members who do not meet the Phase 1B prioritization for “pre-kindergarten through high school teachers, support staff and child care workers who usually have direct contact with children.” We hope as more doses of the vaccine become available, these members will be included with other frontline workers who have not yet been made eligible for vaccination.

Q: Are student teachers and aspiring educators doing in-person field placements/observations included in Phase 1B? (added 1/7)

A: Yes, student teachers regularly working with children in a school district are eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1B. This includes aspiring educators completing any in-person field placements. Their vaccination – like other educators – would be coordinated through their host school districts, who need to include student teachers when they are working to coordinate appointments with their local health department.

Q: Will family members of school employees also be eligible to receive the vaccine once school employees are eligible? (added 1/12)

 No. Each family member will be eligible for vaccination according to the MDHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Guidance. Review the guidance to determine which priority group each family member is in.

Updated: 1/12/21 at 12:15 p.m. – MEA will continue to update this page with more information and resources when available.

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29 thoughts on “FAQ on COVID-19 Vaccine for School Employees

  1. This union better fight for members who opt out of the vaccine, or I will opt out of this union.

  2. My husband and I are both phase 1B essential employees. We have been in contact with St Clair County health department and they did not have any “plan” to get the vaccine out to us. We were told to referred to the states website. My employer has only given me a possible date, sometime in Feb. His employer has not given him any information. Please advise.

  3. I am a Special Education Teacher in Oak Park. (OPPA) When and where will I be able to get the vaccine? I am over 65 years old.

  4. I live in Oakland County and work in Wayne County. Teachers in Oakland County are being told to sign up immediately to get on a list to get vaccinated through the Oakland County Health Department. My district is telling us to wait for more information. Should I be following the guidance of where I live or where I’m employed?

  5. I see nothing about substitute teachers. As a retired teacher after almost 35 years and a substitute hired by the district I worked for, I contacted them and was told the MDHHS would decide. Considering I have subbed for quarantined teachers I find this an unacceptable response. With the shortage of substitutes we should be included no questions asked.

  6. I teach in Montcalm county but live in Kent County. How do I find out how to get my vaccine in Kent County

  7. Most people are not able to acquire appointments (I’ve been trying for 24 hours to no avail), but I saw on the MEA website that a teacher retired 4 years received a vaccine. Is anything being done to ensure the vaccine is available FIRST to those of us still face-to-face with students?

  8. Are teachers families, living in same household included in this phase? Doesn’t make much since for me to get vaccinated and leave my wife and kids in danger.

  9. Our local health department says they do not have enough vaccine to cover the first group, let alone to cover this next group. When will they have enough vaccine so that we can actually get it? and if another county has more vaccine can I go to another county to get vaccinated? Will there be a lottery system at the schools or will vaccination order go by age and underlying conditions?

  10. Are Education Support Staff, Admin Assistants and clerical personnel included in this group?

  11. I have severe food and medication allergies my ENT told me I would not be a good candidate for it where do I stand with that?

  12. I attempted to sign up for the vaccine, and the Washtenaw County Health Website message I received said, “We are only vaccinating school staff 50 years or older at this time.”

  13. Do you schedule vaccination appt thru county where u work or where u live? My wife is a teacher

  14. I own a private preschool. How will I be notified when we can make appointments and how do I get the form?


  16. Now that parapros in self-contained classrooms are 1A, do we just wait to be notified by email, or is there another step?

  17. Hi my name is Patrick
    I am a high school baseball coach northern Michigan (seasonal) but I normally help with other sports. The question is, am I part of the 1B group? The school superintendent for my area said he is waiting for clarification about coaches. Obviously; I want to get the vaccine as soon as possible. Can you help with the question. Thanks

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