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Kentucky child care workers bumped up the list on COVID vaccine priority

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 6:38 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Child care workers can now get the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear made the announcement Monday.

“We are making a change in that we are moving child care workers to group 1B, the priority group we are currently in,” Beshear said.

People across the state have wondered why child care workers weren’t initially included with other teachers in the vaccine rollout plan.

“I heard that preschool teachers were being left out,” James Cronin, a Louisville parent said.

The fact that day care workers were told that they had to wait to get the vaccine really bothered Cronin. His two-year-old son Callum goes to AJ Preschool in Louisville. Cronin and his wife run a business together, having the day care open during the pandemic was critical for them.

“The only way we’ve been able to have any sense of normalcy has been through the incredible and heroic efforts of the preschool educators,” Cronin said.

Cronin started an online petition on change.org to push for day care employees to be vaccinated with other teachers. He got more than 7,000 supporters.

Initially, child care providers were lumped into Phase 1C. Now, under Governor Beshear’s updated guidance, child care providers moved up to Kentucky’s current vaccination phase 1B, which already included K-12 school personnel who started getting vaccinated in January. Child care providers across the state argued that they should have been part of phase 1B from the beginning.

“It struck me as arbitrary distinction that teaching starts at kindergarten,” Cronin said. “Their job has been validated in the sense they are more than just babysitters. They are educators and caretakers. Double benefit of having our children cared for in a safe and healthy environment and it gives us an opportunity to work.”

Olly James agrees. She’s a day care worker at AJ Preschool. In many ways, she says child care employees are exposed more to the virus.

“Our kids can’t socially distance, our kids can’t wear masks, we can’t do online instruction,” James said.

James is glad the Governor added child care workers to phase 1B.

“I’m happy, I’m excited,” James said. “Most of all of my friends outside of AJ are day care workers as well it’s important to me that they are all safe.”

Child Care Council of Kentucky, Inc. released a statement about day care employees being eligible for the vaccine.

“We are very thankful to Governor Beshear and his administration for prioritizing child care teachers in Phase 1B of Kentucky’s vaccination schedule. Child care teachers have been providing essential services throughout the entire pandemic and are a part of the overall education of young children in the Commonwealth. Thanks to the many advocates, including child care staff, who have made calls, sent emails, talked with media and so much more in this very important work. Child care is essential to a strong Kentucky economy,” Bradley Stevenson, Executive Director of Child Care Council of Kentucky said.

In the coming weeks, the state is going to specifically ask the local health departments - to focus on individuals over 70, vulnerable populations, and child care workers - even if we move into Phase 1C.

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