MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade School Board leaders have approved a one-time stipend for full and part-time workers in the district, including teachers, for employees who receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
This comes after at least 13 teachers, bus drivers, and other employees have died just within the first two weeks of class alone.
All of those who passed away were black and unvaccinated, like Abe Coleman Jr., a 30-year veteran of the school system who taught at Holmes Elementary and mentored kids with the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Program.
“He was a very charismatic person, joyful person, hardworking,” says his son, Abe Coleman III, whose aunt also died of COVID-19. “He was definitely a man anybody can set out to be”
His son is now burying his dad and an aunt, Veronica Coleman-Bostic who died two days later. She, too, an educator by trade who had not gotten the vaccine. The memorial service for Coleman will be held Thursday evening at The Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
“I try to push it to my family the best I can,” says his son. “I try to push it to other people, but unless you’re putting in the place to take them to do it, it’s hard to get em to do it.”
This is why Dr. Bernard Ashby a South Florida cardiologist who is part of a group trying to ensure better healthcare access for black and brown communities, says changing mindsets among that disproportionately affected group requires more than just short-term incentives.
“We need to approach these communities in a more holistic way,’ says Ashby.
‘In order for us to address the vaccine issue, we need to address the general health issues of our population,” she explains. “For example, I’m a cardiologist, and last year over 500,000 folks died of COVID-19. Well, more people died from heart disease — that ain’t going on anywhere.”
In the meantime, district employees can expect that cash infusion delivered straight to their paychecks once they prove their vaccination status.