Teachers and school staff eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, other essential workers still waiting

Effective immediately, teachers and daycare workers in Texas can get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced their eligibility on Wednesday afternoon. It came a day after President Biden called on states to prioritize them. Although more than half of all states already had to some degree.

"To us, it was a no-brainer. If you want us back in the classroom with other people, students, and adults, then you should prioritize giving us something that will make us safe," said Ovidia Molina, President of the Texas State Teachers Association. 

The association adding it "applauds Biden for acting for educators, where Gov. Abbott failed."

Their frustration with the Governor does not end there.

On Tuesday, the order the mask mandate be rescinded next week.

"It's ridiculous to think that during a pandemic, you would loosen [restrictions] when we've worked so hard to keep as many people safe," Molina added.

Shortly after the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Education Agency stated a public school system can continue with its current practices. The agency is leaving mask policy decision up to local school boards. 

Meanwhile, grocery store chains like Kroger are also in the spotlight.

Joe Kelley, President of Kroger Houston, says they continue to require both employees and customers to wear masks.

"It's a requirement. What I will tell you is that it's very important for customers coming into our stores do, in fact, wear masks," Kelley told FOX 26.

He adds Kroger is talking to state and federal leaders to get grocery store workers in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I would love to see it by the end of April, but we'll see where it goes," he added.

In a statement, Randall's tells FOX 26 the grocery store chain "is an active member of the Texas Retailers Association (TRA) and has been working closely with TRA on the issue of vaccine prioritization for [their] associates."

H-E-B got backlash after a tweet saying it "strongly encouraged" mask wearing in its stores, but fell short of requring them for customers. 

On Wednesday, Lisa Helfman, public affairs director, H-E-B Houston issued the following statement:

"Though statewide policy has changed, our store policy has not. We will continue to ask shoppers to be masked while in our stores. Additionally, we will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work."

Houston City Council Member Robert Gallegos pushing on Wednesday for the new vaccines to be prioritized for grocery store workers.

"Mayor, is there anyway that we can use the Johnson and Johnson to vaccinate the employees, the essential workers at these grocery stores?," he asked Mayor Sylvester Turner during the city council meeting. "They've been there for us since day one."

Turner agreed to look into the issue.