NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Thousands of school children are not in the classroom because their teachers are unable to get vaccinated, but the educators at an San Fernando Valley private school were able to get their first dose.
"I mean, immediately, my hands started shaking," Jenna Schwartz, a Los Angeles Unified School District parent, said.
She found out that The Wesley School in North Hollywood sent an email to its parents that all employees who wanted to receive a COVID-19 vaccine were able to get their first dose "through a special program for essential workers and educators."
"Here in L.A. County, we have been pushing so hard to get our public schools vaccinated," Schwartz said. "We want all teachers to be vaccinated, but at the heart of all this is equity, right?"
According to L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, essential workers, including teachers, won't be eligible for the vaccine for at least another two weeks.
"It's always going to be hard when you have scarcity to figure out who goes first," she said.
But the question remains of how The Wesley School secured the vaccine doses for its employees.
Northridge Hospital Medical Center said it has vaccinated "tens of thousands" of healthcare workers and seniors, but had 100 doses to offer to area schools — private and public..
"At Northridge Hospital Medical Center, it is our priority to administer COVID-19 vaccines as quickly and safely as possible. We initially vaccinated our frontline healthcare workers and then moved to vaccinate those in the community 65 and older. To date, Dignity Health has vaccinated tens of thousands of people. Recently, we had vaccines available and reached out to schools and daycare centers in the Valley to offer vaccinations to educators, targeting those 65 and older. We will continue to work with our state and county health officials to accelerate vaccine distribution through community events and our health care clinics. We look forward to the day when everyone will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine as supplies increase."
But CBS Los Angeles found LAUSD turned down the offer.
"Those vaccines could have gone to teachers living in our hardest hit areas," Schwartz said. "They could have gone to the building and grounds workers that are currently on site. They could have gone to the staff at the procurement site that are handing out the food every day."
In a statement, The Wesley School said it was "grateful to be contacted," for the opportunity.
"We firmly believe that vaccinating educators is critical to returning students to in-person learning. We were therefore grateful to be contacted by a local hospital in January indicating that it was creating a list of teachers and other essential workers who wished to be vaccinated when the vaccine became available. When the hospital notified us that vaccine was available, some of our teachers scheduled appointments and received the first dose of the vaccine. We strongly urge public health officials to prioritize vaccination for all educators."
As for LAUSD, the district said in a statement that it sought clarification from Public Health before deciding to decline the offer.
"We sought clarification from the Los Angeles County Health Department as to whether vaccine doses are only available to teachers over the age of 65, consistent with current guidelines, or if Northridge Hospital was operating under a different set of rules that would allow any teacher to be vaccinated regardless of age. The County confirmed that currently vaccines are only available for healthcare workers and those over 65 and thanked us for following proper procedures. The County is looking into this issue."
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