Austin ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said teachers and district staff will be in the “second phase” of COVID-19 vaccinations, behind health care workers, in early 2021.

“We know that the vaccine is here, but we know it is still months away from when we will all be able to benefit,” Elizalde said during the district’s Dec. 14 board meeting. “We did get news that our teachers will be in the second phase because [the state knows] how important our teachers are to our schools. The lobbying that we did collectively, our voices were heard.”

AISD spokesperson Eddie Villa told Community Impact Newspaper on Dec. 15 that, as essential workers, education employees will be included in Phase 1B of the state's vaccine rollout plan.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Phase 1A includes getting the vaccine to health care workers. A draft of a Phase 1B plan includes teachers, long-term care residents, law enforcement, firefighters, adults age 65 and older and those individuals with medical conditions that put them at a greater risk.

Phase 1B is expected to begin in early 2021, depending on the availability of vaccines after Phase 1A is completed, Villa said. According to DSHS, there are 1.6 million health care workers in the state that make up Phase 1A.

Once available, Elizalde said the district will work with health officials to prioritize vaccines within its staff based on an employee's proximity to students and AISD families.

“The way it was explained to us was it would be any of our staff members that have the most direct contact with students, and that we are to help provide that prioritization,” she said. “The districts are actually being given the autonomy to help tier within the organization.”

Villa said the district is not a vaccine distributor, but it will continue to partner with local health experts regarding the rollout.

The first doses of the Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began arriving in Texas Dec. 14. UT Health Austin and Dell Medical School were the first Austin institutions to receive the vaccine, and began administering doses the morning of Dec. 15.