TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Local teachers are flocking to area pharmacies to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Teachers in Indiana have been pushing Gov. Eric Holcomb to prioritize them for the vaccine.
As News 18 previously reported, a new federal program bypasses those state guidelines and allocates doses reserved for educators directly to Walmart, Pay Less and Meijer pharmacies.
At least one local chain, Pay Less, is completely booked and is not accepting new appointments, according to its website.
"Almost on the verge of tears after hearing that we could get our vaccines on Wednesday," says Andi Hipsher, a teacher at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School.
Hipsher called about a dozen times to get an appointment at the westside Meijer with about 50 other teachers.
"I know there was a mad dash to grab one of those vaccines on Wednesday and I know there were some teachers that just didn't get in on time," she says.
Hipsher is co-president of the West Lafayette teachers union. As News 18 previously reported, the union urged Holcomb last month to prioritize educators.
"We kind of felt like we weren't being given the priority that we thought we deserved," Hipsher says.
But there's still confusion about how to sign up, where to go and if higher education positions are eligible.
"There's not been a lot of information trickling down, the pharmacies aren't real clear on what's going on," says Anne Huber, whose husband is a professor at Purdue University.
"The Walmart in West Lafayette says they're not a federal location, Sam's Club says they don't know," she says.
Meijer is partnering with the Indiana State Teachers Assocation to provide vaccination clinics. The chain is directing teachers to sign up by visiting clinic.meijer.com or text ISTA to 75049.
Payless says teachers should visit pay-less.com/covidvaccine or call 1-866-211-5320, while Walmart is using the state's website, coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine. But teachers as of Friday can't register through website because they're still not considered eligible by the state.
West Lafayette Intermediate School Principal Margaret Psarros received her vaccine on Wednesday along with about 20 other staff members.
"Some people said between 15 to 25 times calling and calling and calling to get through," she says.
Psarros says administrators, substitutes and other staff covered for teachers who wanted to be vaccinated.
"Teachers have been anxiously waiting and wanting their turn and as soon as they opened that up, I know every one of us wanted to get an opportunity," she says.