Teachers age 50 and older will soon get access to COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, DeSantis says

HIALEAH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday in Hialeah that Florida classroom teachers who are age 50 and older will be next in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

DeSantis first gave priority access to people who are age 65 and older when he signed an executive order in December. He hasn’t officially added teachers as an eligible group yet, but he said it will be possible soon “because we have these extra doses.”

During a news conference at the White House on Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki said states will receive about 14.5 million doses this week — in a nearly 70% increase in the distribution of doses over the last month.

DeSantis, who had said Florida didn’t need Biden’s help on distribution, changed his tone and said he was “happy” about the four new federally supported vaccine sites that will open on March 3 in Florida. One will be at Miami Dade College’s North Campus at 11380 NW 27th Ave.

The vaccines “should go a long way to addressing a significant portion of that population who are still having concerns,” Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

Anna Fusco, the president of the Broward Teachers Union, said it was about time for DeSantis to prioritize teachers, as he has pushed for the reopening of schoolhouses during the pandemic. The union has an ongoing dispute over the protection of teachers who are at risk of dying of COVID-19.

“Aside from being an educator in a school site, they also are citizens in the community,” Fusco said. “They are, you know, possibly out and about, and having them vaccinated helps stop the spread.”

Karla Hernández-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, said the real goal is to have vaccines for all of the teachers. And as Miami-Dade public school bus drivers were grieving the COVID-19 death of their colleague Donna Blatch, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the district needs more vaccines.

“This is not only about teachers who are 50 and older,” Carvalho said. “We have principals. We have custodians. We have bus drivers. We have school site personnel, frontline essential personnel that need the vaccination as well.”

DeSantis also said sworn law enforcement personnel and firefighters will also be next in line. He was in Hialeah to announce that more people will be able to receive doses of the vaccine at CVS Pharmacy y más locations and Navarro Discount Pharmacy stores.

For more information about access to the vaccine in Florida, call 1-866-779-6121, visit this state site, or e-mail at COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

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