RHODE ISLAND – On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden challenged the nation to provide at least one vaccine dose to every educator by the end of March. By Wednesday morning, CVS Pharmacy was already working to make that goal a reality. 

“Let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is,” Biden remarked from the White House on Tuesday evening. “That means getting essential workers who provide that service — educators, school staff, child care workers — get them vaccinated immediately.” 

Although most states have already begun prioritizing vaccines for educators, Biden said he will be using the “full authority of the federal government” in “directing every state to do the same.” 

CVS Pharmacy has begun working towards those ends by opening vaccine appointments to K-12 teachers, as well as daycare and preschool workers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. These appointments are also open to school and daycare staff members.

CVS Pharmacy vaccine appointments are also now available to teachers and childcare workers in 16 additional states, as well as Puerto Rico, as of Wednesday morning. 

According to a pharmacy spokesperson, they are “aligning with updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines by making appointments available to pre-K through 12 educators and staff and childcare workers in all 17 states where we currently offer COVID-19 vaccines.”

Although many school districts in Rhode Island have already returned to a full five-day, in-person learning schedule, there are some states where students have been out of the classroom for almost a year. Still, teachers and childcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic are anxious to receive the vaccine. 

In Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, vaccine appointments through CVS Pharmacy are already fully booked, but those now eligible should revisit the site later and book an appointment when possible. 

The pharmacy has more than 10,000 locations nationwide — almost half of which are located in communities ranked high or very high in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index. Areas like Central Falls, Providence and Woonsocket have been among the hardest hit communities in Rhode Island, but no community has escaped the virus unscathed. Last spring, and over this past holiday season, Rhode Island saw a surge in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations, which thankfully, have since seemed to level off. 

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, 78,350 individuals have already received both doses of the vaccine, and 193,963 have received at least their first dose. These numbers stand to increase even further in the coming days and weeks, especially as more doses find their way to Rhode Island. 

In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, over the weekend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the third vaccine — Johnson and Johnson — to come onto the market. The new, single-dose vaccine does not present the same logistical challenges and has also proven to be resistant to variant strains in clinical trials. 

According to J&J Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Richard Nettles, the company expects to provide 20 million doses by the end of March. 

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