OLYMPIA — Educators and childcare workers are now eligible to be vaccinated for covid-19 in Washington state, following an announcement Tuesday afternoon from Gov. Jay Inslee.

The decision to add teachers, school staff and licensed childcare workers to the group of Washingtonians currently eligible in Phase 1B, Tier 1 to receive the vaccine came after President Joe Biden pleaded to states earlier in the day to prioritize vaccinating these groups to more quickly allow for a full return to in-person instruction.

“Like President Biden, I am grateful for the hard work and sacrifice of educators every day, and especially during this pandemic. The president has directed us to add preK-12 educators, school staff and licensed childcare workers to our current vaccine prioritization,” Inslee said in a statement.

Existing vaccine providers will be able to vaccinate the newly eligible group, as well as national and independent pharmacy chains through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. As of March 1 in Pacific County, there were about 600 to 700 people on the countywide waitlist that were still waiting to be vaccinated, with county providers receiving enough doses this week for about 1,000 first-dose appointments.

In his statement, Inslee also said an announcement would be coming soon as to when the state would move to Phase 1B, Tier 2 of its vaccine prioritization program. That group includes critical workers in certain congregate settings, including those working in food processors and grocery stores, corrections workers, public transit workers and farmworkers, among others.

“We will continue our progress in getting every Washingtonian vaccinated. I am grateful for the partnership of the federal government and their efforts to help move educators up in the prioritization,” Inslee said.

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