CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - For nearly a year, child care workers have been called essential workers during the pandemic.
But here in Ohio, they’re not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine yet, even though K-12 teachers are.
19 News found child care workers are fighting to be next in line.
Kimberly Tice saw firsthand their dedication through crisis.
She’s executive director of Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children.
“During this time, it’s been very difficult with the increased safety protocols, low enrollment, increased costs for safety equipment and those measures,” Tice said.
Not all child care workers who want to be are back at work.
Tice said they were surprised when child care workers were not included in group 1B for Covid-19 vaccines like K-12 teachers.
The CDC recommends they fall in that priority group. You can see those guidelines on p. 9 of this document.
Tice said Ohio is only one of a handful of states that hasn’t included them.
You can see who is included in group 1B here.
“So we’re hopeful that Gov. DeWine will also reconsider his decision and recognize the critical work of caring for young children and families who are working in our state,” Tice said.
Child care workers worry about the health and safety of children, their families and staff.
Tice points out many parents can’t go back to the office without daycare.
Child care workers in the Cleveland area started a petition that is nearing 25,000 signatures.
In the petition, they’re asking to be vaccinated as soon as possible-- if not now, then next in group 1C.
“It’s not just the child care workers themselves. Families and grandparents, business owners, community members were surprised as well that these workers weren’t included,” Tice said.
Tice said Ohio child care centers are struggling because of low enrollment.
She believes vaccinating daycare workers will help them and their families.
“They’re already entrusting them with their most precious resource, their child. And so they want to make sure that the people that are caring for them, their child’s teachers, are protected as well,” Tice said.
Last week, Governor Mike DeWine said about 700 groups have reached out to him to be included as a part of group 1C.
This includes professions like grocery store workers and funeral workers.
19 News reached out to the Ohio Department of Health; here’s their response:
“There is not a date set for when Phase 1C will be announced and which groups it will be comprised of. We are currently in the midst of Phase 1B, and it will take some time to vaccinate the 2.2 million in that group.
Vaccine continues to be scarce in Ohio and across the country, and quite simply, there isn’t enough vaccine to go around. While there are many groups who have important reasons they should be prioritized, Ohio has concentrated its early vaccination phases on our most vulnerable, as Ohioans age 65 and older make up 87% of the COVID-19 deaths in the state.”