March 3, 2021

Early Childhood Professionals Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine

National and state initiatives are prioritizing eligible teachers, school staff, and child care workers who want to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

On March 2, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden directed all states to prioritize school staff and child care providers for the vaccine. On March 3, 2021, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that the state would prioritize the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for pre-k to 12 teachers and other school staff, including early childhood educators and child care providers.

Federal Pharmacy Program

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is a collaboration between the federal government, states and territories, and 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks to increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations across the United States.

The federal pharmacy program is prioritizing vaccinating all school staff, and child care workers during the month of March. In addition to their existing state and local COVID-19 vaccination sites, teachers and staff in pre-k to 12 schools and child care programs are able to sign up for an appointment at over 9,000 pharmacy locations participating in the program nationwide.

Individuals who are interested in getting vaccinated at their local pharmacy should check the pharmacy’s website or visit

The following pharmacies are participating in Pennsylvania:

Learn more about the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program on the CDC website.

Pennsylvania J&J Initiative

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the one-dose J&J COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use last week. Under this special initiative, pre-k to 12 school staff and child care program workers will be the first individuals in Pennsylvania eligible to receive the doses as early as mid-March.

The state initiative includes early childhood educators and staff age 18 and older who are employed by a public or non-public pre-k to 12 school entity, and early childhood program workers age 18 and older who work in the following settings:

    • Child care (includes relative providers)
    • Part-day school-age programs
    • Home visiting programs
    • Early intervention
    • Early childhood programs including Head Start/Early Head Start, pre-k, and family centers

Surveys and Forms

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is asking ECE professionals, child care providers, and staff of community-based ECE providers to follow these TWO steps by March 12:

The Departments of Health and Education and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) are working with the Intermediate Units (IUs) to set up dedicated vaccination sites for ECE staff who work in pre-k to 12 public and non-public schools across the state. There will be at least one vaccination site per IU region.

School staff will be directed to the vaccination site in the region within which their school is located. Interest in this portion of the special initiative is being facilitated through a separate survey distributed by the PDE. Staff should not complete both surveys, as this will tie up the process.

Allegheny County Early Learning Programs

As the COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available to educators and child care providers, Allegheny County providers who were in communication with Trying Together in January 2021 regarding a vaccine rollout and coordination are encouraged to proceed with scheduling a vaccine via the federal pharmacy program or the state’s J&J vaccine initiative this month.

Allegheny County providers who have questions about access to the J&J vaccine for ECE professionals should refer to this PDF of FAQs prepared by OCDEL or contact their Quality Coach at the ELRC Region 5.

More Information

Image: Two young children show their early learning teacher a stuffed animal. The teacher responds by showing them her stuffed animal.