TAMAP, Fla. - Starting Wednesday, firefighters, law enforcement officers and school personnel over the age of 50 will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. This is the first new group to be eligible for a shot since the rollout started in December.
The latest executive order signed by Governor Ron DeSantis adds K-12 school employees, sworn law enforcement officers, and firefighters 50 and older.
Florida expects to receive 175,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. DeSantis says that shipment would probably be enough to cover all newly eligible Floridians.
"We do believe that J&J is perfect for law enforcement agencies, other workforces because you don't have to worry about coming back and scheduling second appointments," DeSantis said.
"Quite honestly, in some respects, it’s about time that the governor take care of those that are working in our schools and protect them and our students and the continuity of learning," said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association.
However, the FEA also believes this does not go far enough. Questioning why pre-K staff who work in elementary schools, along with college and university professors, are not included.
The two-page executive order does not provide any clarity or explain who qualifies as school employees. Do they need to be full-time? What about substitute teachers?
"We actually are taking the approach that this is all who work in our public schools in the K-12 system who are over the age of 50," Spar said.
Friday, the governor also made it easier for those "extremely vulnerable to COVID-19" to get a shot.
Now, hospitals, physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and pharmacists can also vaccinate high-risk Floridians. Monday’s executive order added that doctors must write a note the patient meets the "defined eligibility criteria established by a form prescribed by the Florida Department of Health."
Last week, DeSantis said he hoped to have law enforcement, firefighters and teachers all vaccinated at the four federally supported sites set to open across the state Wednesday.
The sites are:
- Tampa Greyhound Track: 755 E. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL, 33604
- Valencia College – West Campus: 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando, FL, 32811
- Gateway Mall: 5200 Norwood Ave, Jacksonville, FL, 32208
- Miami Dade Community College (North Campus): 11380 NW 27th Ave., Miami, FL, 33167
Officials said each site will administer about 2,000 vaccines per day. FEMA tells FOX 13 News that folks can sign-up for a slot the same way you would at a state-run site, MyVaccine.FL.gov.