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Lawmakers Push Beshear Administration On Vaccinating Child Care Workers

John Boyle

As Kentucky continues to vaccinate only first responders, teachers and people most vulnerable to the virus, some state lawmakers are pushing for Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration to move child care workers to the front of the line.

During a meeting of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Paducah Republican Sen. Danny Carroll said he doesn’t understand why K-12 teachers are eligible for the vaccine, but child care workers aren’t.

“Our child care workers have been working daily ever since the child care centers were allowed to reopen,” Carroll said.

“So we’re vaccinating people to sit at home when you have another group who is working with kids, who is working every day, who can’t get the vaccine.”

K-12 teachers have continued working throughout the pandemic, with some districts in-person and others remote. Local school districts are the final authority on whether to allow in-person classes.

Meanwhile Kentucky child care centers have operated in person since June, though at areduced capacity—licensed facilities must keep children in groups no larger than 15.

In an op-ed published Tuesday, Louisville Democratic Rep. Josie Raymond said the governor’s decisions have saved lives during the pandemic, but she’s disappointed child care workers aren’t eligible to get vaccinated yet.

“Kentucky veered from the guidelines and put child care workers in a lower priority group, meaning they have to continue to put their health and safety at risk without the protection afforded to other educators,” Raymond wrote.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrecommended that child care workers be vaccinated along with teachers and other frontline essential workers.

Eric Friedlander, the secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said it’s difficult to define which workers should receive the limited vaccine supply.

“Any one of you all on the committee might have a different opinion about who is the next most important. And that’s the real difficulty with this.”

“There’s not enough supply. We hope to see some of that in the coming months ease up and we’ll be able to meet more requests.”

Child care providers are included in phase 1c of the state’s vaccination schedule.

Beshear has said that regional sites are currently authorized to vaccinate people in phase 1c only if doses are left over.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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