MIAMI – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he would comply with the Biden administration’s mandate that requires states to prioritize educators with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine, and that all school employees and child care workers in the Sunshine State can now receive the vaccine, regardless of age.
“The federal government is the one sending us the vaccine,” DeSantis said. “If they want it to be for all ages then they have the ability to go and do that.”
Florida PreK-12 school employees under 50 are limited to getting vaccines at retail pharmacies and the FEMA-supported sites. (More details lower in this story.)
And DeSantis said the state’s main priority continues to be vaccinating seniors 65 and older.
“Our view is, if you’re 25, you’re just at less risk than somebody that’s 80,” the governor said. “That’s just the bottom line. The age-based approach we think is the most effective to reduce mortality.”
DeSantis’ announcement came after the CVS Pharmacy chain and other pharmacies already began vaccinating Florida teachers under age 50, circumventing state orders at the time that limited coronavirus inoculations to those over that age.
CVS also began vaccinating daycare and preschool teachers Wednesday.
CVS is giving inoculations in two dozen cities across the state.
Ahead of DeSantis’ announcement, CVS said it was following Biden administration guidelines.
The federal guidelines allow daycare workers, preschool teachers and educators in elementary, middle and high schools to be vaccinated with no age limit. That will apply to the retail chains vaccinating in Florida.
CVS locations in Miami-Dade County that are currently offering vaccination appointments are in Doral, Hialeah, Homestead, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, North Miami, North Miami Beach, and Sunny Isles Beach.
Participating locations in Broward County are in Plantation and Tamarac.
“I feel confident that once there’s more vaccines that are going to get spread out there will be more in Dade and there will be more in Broward County,” said Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union.
Online appointments have filled up quickly so far, but CVS said on its website that more slots will open up.
Click here for more information or to schedule an appointment at a CVS location near you.
Who can go where?
In addition to the retail pharmacy locations in the state, PreK-12 school employees under 50 can go to the FEMA-supported, state-run federal vaccination sites (Miami Dade College’s north campus and satellite hubs in Florida City and Sweetwater). Click here for more information.
But PreK-12 educators under 50 can’t show up at other sites and expect to receive shots.
Age 50+ preschool and PreK-12 school employees “can go anywhere,” a spokesman for the state vaccination sites said. Note that appointments are still needed at many vaccination sites.
College professors are not eligible at federal vaccine hubs as of yet.
NEW SINCE NOON: State planners tell me for K-12 School Employees - which vaccination site you will go to will depend on your age. 50+ at any site to include #HardRock and #MarlinsPark - if between 18-49yo you “must” - can “only” - get vaccinated at FEMA-supported sites. https://t.co/nLXiybQU0S pic.twitter.com/5WhGpmLQCF— Christina Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) March 4, 2021
Other eligibility questions
With eligibility criteria changing day to day, there have been some glitches.
Maria Marco is under 65 but now eligible for the vaccine due to underlying conditions. However, she needed a Johnson & Johnson dose because she’s allergic to ingredients in the other shots. Despite having the necessary medical exemption form, workers turned her away from Miami-Dade’s federal site Wednesday.
Thursday morning she tried again and got her shot.
“Everybody is saying now it’s my turn and I still couldn’t get it,” she said. “They understood when I got in line [Thursday] and there was no issue.”