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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Ohio Stands Firm in Excluding Daycare and Pre-K Workers from Vaccine Priorities

a photo of preschool children
U.S Army
U.S. Army/Flickr
Those who work in Ohio daycare centers and pre-schools have not been prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Nearly 24,000 people have signed a petition seeking to change that.

As Ohio teachers continue to receive their coronavirus vaccines, daycare workers and pre-school teachers are arguing they should be prioritized like other school staff.

The CDC included daycare workers in its recommendation for phase 1B of the vaccine rollout. But in Ohio, only K-12 employees were included, along with those over age 65 and residents with developmental disabilities, and there's no timeline for when daycare workers or additional groups will be included.

Gov. Mike DeWine said the state is prioritizing K-12 school employees in order to return students to classrooms by March 1. But child care providers, which already been open for months, are protesting their exclusion from Ohio's plans.

In a Change.org petition addressed to the DeWine administration, early childhood educators demand to be included in the same vaccine tier as other teachers. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition boasts almost 24,000 signatures.

"Overnight, while staring into the face of the pandemic, many educators of our youngest Ohio citizens became essential frontline workers, prioritizing the support, care and nurturing of children over their own health and personal needs," the petition reads. "Others chose not to return out of concern for their own health and/or that of their loved ones, exacerbating the difficulty of hiring qualified teachers to nurture and educate our youngest children."

Dan Tierney with the Governor’s Office says he understands the argument from early childcare providers.

"Whether it’s pre-school workers or early childhood educators, caregivers, law enforcement, people who work at funeral homes, they all make compelling cases on why they should receive the vaccine as soon as possible," Tierney says. "We simply do not have enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone right now."

Tierney uses another group as an example of the shortage.

"We have about 400,000 Ohioans over age of 80, but only receive about 100,000 doses," he says.

Tierney points that only two professional groups—teachers and frontline health care workers--have been included in the vaccine rollout so far.

"The goal that we have used to guide choices of who might be included in 1A and 1B and future vaccine groups has been to save as many lives as possible," he says.

Copyright 2021 WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Clare Roth is an Iowa native who now calls Ohio home. After stints talk show producing and news magazine hosting, she's found her true passion in editing others' work.