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COVID-19

West Lafayette Meijer Opens Vaccine Clinic To Teachers Following Statement From President Biden

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West Lafayette Meijer (WBAA News)

A day after President Biden said he would prioritize teachers and school staff as part of the ongoing vaccine rollout, a Meijer in West Lafayette opened its vaccine appointments to teachers. 

  

Indiana state officials have previously rejected teacher’s pleas to be included in the vaccine rollout - noting that an age-based rollout is informed by data indicating who is most at risk. 

Adam Harty is the Pharmacy District Manager for Meijer. He said the company is a federal partner and felt comfortable opening their clinic to teachers starting Wednesday following the president’s statement. 

“We made the decision overnight to invite teachers to our existing clinic,” he said. 

Harty said Meijer reached out to local school superintendents to let them know they’d opened vaccination slots to teachers. 

“That had an immediate impact,” he said. “We started getting phone calls right away.”

It is not clear when the West Lafayette Meijer will hold its next vaccination clinic. Harty said the clinics are based on when they get vaccine shipments from the federal government.

Appointments for a vaccine must be scheduled directly through the pharmacy and not the state website. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Eric Holcomb said that Indiana pharmacies partnered with the federal government, like Kroger, Meijer, and Walmart, will offer vaccines to teachers. The state will also continue with its age-based rollout. 

“We’re still trying to run down details,” Holcomb said. “But they [the federal government] will provide doses to the federal pharmacy program for teachers to be prioritized across the country.”

Also Wednesday, the state expanded the group of Hoosiers eligible for a vaccine to those 50 and over.

Lauren Benham is a sixth-grade teacher in Lafayette. She said when she heard the clinic was open to teachers she rushed to get vaccinated. 

“I was teaching when I got an email from the school nurse,” she said. “I called 87 times on my lunch break until I was able to get through.”

 Benham said it has felt like Indiana isn’t valuing teachers in its vaccine rollout. 

“My husband is a type one diabetic,” she said. “I just really want to protect him. He doesn’t choose for me to get exposed every day. So by getting it I feel like I can protect the people around me who matter to me.”

As the news of vaccine availability for teachers spread through her school, Benham said she felt the mood lighten. 

“Everything was buzzing and everybody was excited and happy,” she said. “It hasn’t been like that in a while.”