MIAMI (CBSMiami) – All Florida teachers, school employees, and child care workers, regardless of age, can now receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state’s new stance at a vaccination site in Crystal River on Thursday. He said a new mandate from the Biden administration, released earlier this week, which directs states to give priority to all educators for the vaccine will be followed in Florida.READ MORE: What You Need To Know About Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine In South Florida
“They’ve made the teachers, regardless of age, eligible. So they are eligible to get vaccinated per that order,” he said.
DeSantis indicated while he didn’t agree with the order, he won’t stand in the way.
“The federal government put that order in, our view is if you are 25 you are at less risk than someone 80, that’s the bottom line.”
Previously, the state limited vaccinations to K-12 classroom teachers 50 and older. Preschool teachers and daycare workers were not eligible. Now they are.
Under the new mandate, CVS pharmacies, Walmart pharmacies and the FEMA site at Miami-Dade College North Campus all say they will vaccinate teachers of any age. You must bring school identification.
“I think it’s a little too late but at least we are there,” said Pembroke Pines Spanish teacher Lynette Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says she wishes the vaccine had been available to teachers last fall when South Florida schools opened for in-person learning. She says a number of teachers caught the virus and others have lived in fear of becoming infected.
She also believes getting teachers vaccinated will give families the confidence to send their kids back to school.READ MORE: United Teachers Of Dade President Karla Hernández-Mats Thanks President Biden For Making Vaccines Available For Teachers
“Parents are going to see teachers vaccinated and say wow! They can feel safe. As long as students continue to practice social distancing it’s great.”
On Wednesday, CVS Pharmacy circumvented DeSantis’ previous mandate and opened vaccinations to all teachers under 50 and daycare workers in the state. A dozen locations in Miami-Dade and Broward began scheduling appointments.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will prioritize all school staff and child care workers this month, following President Joe Biden’s directive on Tuesday.
Tracey Burger, a 49-year-old Miami high school English teacher, said Wednesday that she was disappointed when DeSantis announced last week that she would not make the cut. Burger has barely left her house since schools closed a year ago when the pandemic began.
Then early Wednesday a colleague alerted her that after Biden’s announcement, the CVS Health website was letting younger teachers book appointments. She got an appointment for Saturday.
“I started crying with relief that I am on my way to 95% prevention,” she said. “I will still wear my mask and keep socially distancing, but I might consider going to an outdoor restaurant or show now.”
Jennifer Milian, 41, an elementary school art teacher in Miami, said a coworker texted her early Wednesday to let her know that CVS was opening appointments to teachers of all ages.
“I almost didn’t believe it was true,” said Milian, who right away called her husband, also a teacher, and asked him to look into it. He soon sent computer screenshots with the confirmations for Thursday appointments.
“I had been on the lookout for a while to see when it would be our turn,” she said. “It turns out it was magically today.”MORE NEWS: Complete A Medical Exemption Form & Visit New Federal Site At MDC’s North Campus
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)