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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Biden on Wednesday used the federal government to prioritize vaccinating teachers and child care workers, an effort to get kids back in schools, WashPost reports.

What he's saying: "My challenge to all states, territories and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, child care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March," Biden said.

  • Teachers will have access to vaccines through the federal government's pharmacy program, starting next week.

State of play: Teachers have said they'd be more willing to return for in-person schooling if they first receive a vaccine.

  • More than half of the states have already put teachers in a high-priority category.

The other side: Experts generally agree that it's safe to reopen schools regardless of whether teachers have been vaccinated, as long as safety precautions are followed.

  • The move was also criticized for putting teachers who are not currently eligible for the vaccine, based on their age or health conditions, above more vulnerable people.
  • "This means taking vaccine away from higher-risk persons & communities of color to vaccine young healthy teachers. This is an ANTI-EQUITY move," tweeted Celine Gounder, a member of Biden's transition coronavirus taskforce.

Go deeper

Mar 2, 2021 - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.

Updated Mar 2, 2021 - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.