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Hampton Roads teachers have mixed feelings on COVID-19 vaccine once phase 1B begins

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Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 08:56:51-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Nearly a dozen health districts across the state are currently vaccinating schoolteachers, but only one of those districts is here in Hampton Roads.

One teacher in Virginia Beach tells News 3 she’s shocked to find out that the state's largest school system still can't get their teachers vaccinated yet.

"Many of the teachers are anxiously waiting on the vaccine,” said Kelly Walker. She’s the president of the Virginia Beach Education Association.

The organization represents hundreds of teachers in the area.

"Many are apprehensive that without the vaccine, especially with the rise in numbers and after the holidays, that it is not safe to go back into the classroom until they have the vaccine,” Walker adds.

To speed up vaccine distribution, 11 health districts in the state are currently in phase 1B, which includes law enforcement, homeless shelter workers and kindergarten to 12th grade teachers.

The areas are:

  • Alexandria
  • Arlington
  • Cumberland Plateau
  • Fairfax
  • Lenowisco
  • Lord Fairfax
  • Loudoun
  • Mount Rogers
  • New River
  • Prince William
  • Roanoke City/Alleghany

Additionally, employees who work for Chesapeake Public Schools were told Monday that they will be able to start receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine beginning Wednesday.

"I was hoping that we would start vaccinating this week or even next week, as soon as possible,” adds Walker.

We're told regions that were able to get through vaccinating group 1A quickly were given the green light to move forward.

A spokesperson with the health department tells News 3 "some of our districts in the region are getting close" to start vaccinating teachers.

Hampton middle school math teacher Megan Thorne doesn't plan on getting the vaccine when it becomes available.

"Personally for me, the vaccine in itself is a little scary 'cause I feel like it hasn't been tested as well as it could've been,” said Thorne.

She isn’t alone. Robert Banach teaches 6th grade science at Peasley Middle School in Gloucester County, where school is currently virtual.

"I'd love to see the kids be back in the class. I don't think they are learning,” said Robert Banach.

He tells us he will not be getting vaccinated. All he wants to do is teach.

“I want to teach science. That's what I do,” he adds.

Click here for full Safely at School coverage.