MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration to make sure teachers and school staff have priority access to the coronavirus vaccine after healthcare workers and first responders.
In a Tuesday letter to Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, Florida’s surgeon general, Carvalho wrote that teachers’ priority access to the vaccine and to more reliable coronavirus testing is critical. Both of these measures, Carvalho wrote, will “expedite the stabilization of our community, our economy, and most importantly student learning.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration experts will be discussing the safety and effectiveness of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Thursday. President Donald Trump’s administration expects the FDA to approve the vaccine and start distribution to the states this month.
Carvalho is counting on the help of Dr. Peter Paige, the chief clinical officer at Jackson Health Systems, to advise MDCPS with the process. Miami-Dade’s new mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, recently appointed Paige as the county’s new chief medical officer.
DeSantis said Tuesday during Trump’s administration summit on the coronavirus vaccine that he will first have it distributed to Florida’s long-term care facilities’ residents and to hospitals. It’s still unclear how hospitals’ executives will prioritize their workforce.
DeSantis also said teachers, law enforcement, and other front-line workers are also on his priority list. Karla Hernandez-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, supports Carvalho’s request to DeSantis asking him to place public school teachers in Miami-Dade at the front of the line.
“We do believe that is it important since we are in direct contact with children and with the community on a daily basis,” Hernandez-Mats said.
The vaccine requires two shots spread over the course of weeks. Pfizer announced last month the vaccine’s efficacy rate was above 90% at 7 days after the second dose.
The FDA reported on Tuesday the vaccine’s protection appears two weeks after the first dose and seems to last at least two months after the second dose. The vaccine’s most common side effects were flu-like reactions for a few days and injection-site pain, the FDA reported.
Pfizer is still testing the vaccine in children. It’s also still unclear if hospitals in South Florida and other institutions will make the vaccine mandatory. It’s unlikely that DeSantis will introduce a vaccine mandate since he did not impose a statewide face mask mandate.
TESTING FOR MIAMI-DADE TEACHERS
Carvalho also requested that public schools have more access to the more costly PCR testing, which is more reliable than rapid antigen testing. For now, MDCPS is offering free PCR testing for teachers and their families on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at these three sites:
- Maintenance Service Center I at 12525 NW 28 Ave., Miami, 33167
- Stores & Mail Distribution at 7001 SW 4 St., Miami, 33144
- Transportation Administration at 15401 SW 117 Ave., Miami, 33177