COVID-19 Clusters Have Child Care Providers Pushing for Move to Higher Vaccine Priority

Early education workers are currently in Phase 2 of Massachusetts' coronavirus vaccine rollout plan

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Child care providers are pushing to be moved up in Massachusetts' vaccine priority after multiple COVID-19 clusters in the state have been traced to the industry.

According to the latest coronavirus public health report released by Massachusetts, 360 clusters have been linked to child care, resulting in 538 confirmed cases. It is the leading cluster category behind households.

They are paying close attention to the data at Teddy Bear Village Childcare Center in Framingham. They have had to shut down three times since June for cleaning due to confirmed cases of COVID-19. Two of those times were due to employees testing positive for the virus.

"It's hectic. Very hectic," said Glorimar Negron, the center's director. "We are taking a risk every day just by coming into work."

Right now, early education workers are in Phase 2 of the state's vaccine rollout plan. They are behind those with two or more comorbidities and those over the age of 75.

In light of the cluster information, many providers hope state officials will change their minds and move them up in priority.

"I think we should definitely be moved up. We're here for the parents that have to go to work," said Danielle Florence, the director of Little Acorns in Framingham.

NBC10 Boston asked Gov. Charlie Baker if he would consider moving the group up at a press conference on Wednesday. He said the state's vaccine advisory board is looking into it.

"That's certainly one of the categories that is currently under discussion, and people have moved based on those discussions with the committee," Baker said.

The vaccine rollout is not the only plan that has child care providers feeling forgotten. A group of more than 250 of them sent a letter to Baker this week, begging him to include them in a weekly testing program the state recently announced for schools.

"We're dealing with children who have siblings in elementary school, junior high and beyond, and we're not getting the same treatment. We were left out and it's just wrong," said Carolyn Breton, a member of Early Educators and Advocates of Massachusetts.

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