SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Teachers are reacting to the news about getting a COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.

Just before noon, Governor Gary Herbert announced teachers K-12 are essential workers and will be among the first to get the COVID-19 vaccination with medical professionals.

Some teachers are calling it an unexpected Christmas gift that hopefully will get schools back to in-person learning.

“I don’t think that it’s sunk in yet. We keep hearing a vaccine is on the horizon, we are going to get a vaccine soon we need to stay safe until we get a vaccine, and now to hear that it’s that close – that’s huge,” says Amy Cassil who teaches at Centennial Junior High.

Cassil says teaching in a pandemic is very hard.

“All of the extra cleaning and you know, mask-wearing and monitoring making sure everyone has their masks on or staying as distanced as best as we can. It’s been very stressful, and it’s been very exhausting,” she says.

Part of that exhaustion is keeping healthy.

“I have colleagues who have been sick. Some have been in the hospital, and it is scary,” she says. “Teachers can’t teach when they are sick. Teachers need to be in the classroom. If we can stay well by getting a vaccine, I’m all for it.”

The FDA is one step closer to approving the Pfizer vaccine.

An advisory panel voted 17-4, adding the benefits outweighed the risks for folks to take the shot 16-year-and-older.

If the vaccine gets an emergency use authorization, it could be in Utah within 24-hours.

“I will be one of the first ones to sign up to get it,” says teacher Erika Bradshaw.

Bradshaw teaches at Hillcrest High School and is the President of the Canyons Education Association.

“We weren’t expecting to get vaccinated until March or even the end of the school year,” she says. “The issue of safety has been a huge concern for teachers this year, and so knowing that we will have access to the vaccine sooner, I think is just going to be wonderful for so many teachers, and they are going to feel relieved.”

And now, teachers across the state can plan on getting inoculated around Christmas through the New Year.

“In the end, it’s going to be hopefully able to keep our schools open,” says Bradshaw.

Cassil adds, “I think the vaccine does put us in a good position for spring and over the summer time.”

Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.