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Unions: Allow First Responders To Vaccinate Eligible Teachers

Registered Nurse Delia Murphy dispenses a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at the Gillette Stadium COVID-19 Vaccination Site. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Registered Nurse Delia Murphy dispenses a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at the Gillette Stadium COVID-19 Vaccination Site. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Several of the state's largest unions urged the Baker administration to pilot a new vaccine program for school employees that would deploy first responders to administer doses in school buildings.

Stressing that the labor organizations are not asking to "jump the line," the groups said Wednesday that using EMTs and firefighters to administer vaccines for school workers could speed up distribution and support efforts to bring more students back to in-person learning.

"It would be a turnkey operation, taking the burden off of state and municipal leaders. This would save municipalities from having to reinvent the wheel in each community," the groups wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. "We are missing only one partner to make this work: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Representatives from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts and the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts asked the executive branch to set aside enough doses from supplies currently in freezers to pilot the initiative in 10 to 20 high-need school districts when those between the ages of 65 and 74 get vaccine access.

They called their idea the "Last Mile Vaccine Delivery Proposal," describing it as built on a similar program first responders offered to one another earlier in the vaccine rollout.

Early education and K-12 workers — but not higher education employees — will become eligible to receive vaccines later in the Baker administration's phased distribution plan, after those who are 65 and older and those with two or more comorbidities.

Labor groups said Massachusetts "is lagging behind other states" directing doses to those in education fields, writing that more than half of states have begun vaccinating school staff even as they acknowledged "it was reasonable" to place educators in the rollout's second phase.

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