Fairfax teachers' union asks school district to push back return to class after vaccine shortage

One of Fairfax County’s top teachers' unions is asking Fairfax County Public Schools to push back its tentative return to class start date on February 16 citing Virginia's COVID-19 vaccine supply shortage and massive vaccine appointment cancellations throughout the state.

Appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine are being canceled all across the Commonwealth, including those scheduled for FCPS.

READ MORE: Inova canceling all first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments due to supply limitations

The cancellation notices went out via email alerting FCPS staff that their appointment to receive the vaccine is being canceled until further notice.

FOX 5 has learned that between 7,000 and 10,000 FCPS employees have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. 

The school district has been partnering with Inova to administer the COVID-19 vaccine but right now, the robust task is at a standstill.

FOX 5's Tisha Lewis spoke with a teacher who received the cancellation notice from Inova last night. She says she was scheduled to receive her vaccine on February 5 and now has no idea when that will happen.

"I’m hoping they can get things rolling. I’m hoping that things are back up and running soon," said Lindsey Meluso.

When asked if she's comfortable going back to the classroom without the vaccination, Meluso told FOX 5 "that’s what we’re going to do.

Meluso has been a special needs teacher at FCPS for the last six years. She, like many others, received an email from the school district and Inova saying due to vaccine supply limitations, first dose appointments for FCPS employees and others in Virginia's phase 1B are canceled as of Tuesday. 

What the email doesn’t say is when the appointments will resume or be rescheduled.

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Inova says last week they received about 20,000 doses of the vaccine but this week they received a fraction of that amount leading to more than a thousand people a day being impacted by the widespread cancellations of first dose appointments.

"We are very concerned that staff and teachers need to be vaccinated with both doses before returning... that’s what we would expect," said Kimberly Adams, president of the Fairfax Education Association.

Inova says for every first dose received, a second dose was held back. They say they do not have any insight on when they will be allocated more COVID-19 vaccine supply.

The school district says Inova will prioritize a second dose for employees who have received the first dose. There are 28,000 FCPS employees.

Lewis reports it’s not just FCPS workers receiving cancellation notices, Inova says this group includes both 1A and 1B individuals who were eligible to be vaccinated, including teachers, healthcare workers, and first responders.