Hawkins, Ybarra press for earlier COVID-19 vaccinations for educators

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OLYMPIA — Two NCW legislators say teachers and school staff shouldn’t have to wait until April to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

That’s roughly when Washington educators younger than 50 are scheduled for COVID-19 vaccinations under the state’s new phased inoculation plan. Twelfth District Sen. Brad Hawkins and 13th District Rep. Alex Ybarra sent an open letter Monday asking Gov. Jay Inslee to revise the vaccine schedule, so all teachers and staffmembers begin receiving their shots in February.

Under the phased plan introduced by the state Department of Health last week, K-12 educators 50 and older can expect to start vaccinating next month. Hawkins and Ybarra are the ranking Republican members of the education committees in the Senate and House respectively.

The request is bipartisan; the Democratic chairs of both committees, Sen. Lisa Wellman and Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, also signed on to the letter.

Ybarra is among state legislators who’ve tested positive for the virus. In a newsletter to constituents this week, he said he contracted COVID-19 in early October. “I’m extremely grateful that although the recovery process has been slow, it was only a mild case, and my experience was not too difficult,” Ybarra said.