After 13 colleagues die from COVID, Miami-Dade teachers union sets up vaccine pop-up

Miami Herald | By Michelle Marchante | September 7, 2021

Thirteen unvaccinated Miami-Dade County Public School employees have died from COVID-19 since the 2021-2022 school year began on Aug. 23, including teachers, according to the school district’s teachers union.

Now, United Teachers of Dade is hosting a vaccine pop-up Tuesday at Lillie C Evans K-8, 1895 NW 75th St. in Miami in hopes of encouraging school district employees and residents of Liberty City, Brownsville and the surrounding communities to get vaccinated.

The pop-up will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will offer all three vaccine options — the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson. Walk-ins are welcome or call 954-546-1908 to make an appointment.

Pfizer’s vaccine has full FDA approval for people 16 and older and is under emergency use authorization for kids 12 to 15. Moderna and J&J’s vaccines are under emergency use authorization for people 18 and older.

Pediatric hospitalizations in Florida have been on the rise due to the surge in new cases from the highly contagious delta variant.

“As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of our union brothers and sisters to COVID last week, we believe it is now our duty to honor Mr. Coleman, Mrs. Smith, and Mr. Thomas, three incredible laborers who served our community,’’ said UTD President Karla Hernandez-Mats in a statement. “As educators, we want to ensure that people have access to the information and the resources they need to get vaccinated and hopefully, spare other families from the terrible effects of this virus.”

United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats, center, cautiously crosses the street with her daughter, Naomi, 7, left, and son, Benjamin Mats,12, right, after he received the COVID-19 vaccination upon turning 12 at the pop-up vaccination clinic. On Tuesday, September 7, 2021 the United Teachers of Dade, the teachers’ union for Miami-Dade public schools, held a pop-up vaccine clinic in the Liberty City and Brownsville area to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines, particularly in the Black community, as three employees – two teachers and a school cafeteria manager, all have recently died from COVID. Carl Juste CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM


The 13 employees who recently died from COVID-19 complications include teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and security monitors, according to the union. One of the virus victims, Lillian Smith, a teacher at Dr. William A. Chapman Elementary School in Naranja, never got to see her students on the first day of school. Her daughter Lakisha Williams, a school cafeteria manager, also died in August.

From left to right: Abe Coleman, Lillian Smith and her daughter Lakisha Williams are three Miami-Dade County Public School employees who recently died from COVID-19. None of them were vaccinated. PHOTO OF ABE COLEMAN COURTESY OF 5000 ROLE MODELS OF EXCELLENCE PROJECT. PHOTOS OF LILLIAN SMITH AND LAKISHA WILLIAMS ARE FACEBOOK SCREENSHOTS

Michael Thomas, a technology teacher at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School in Miami’s West Little River neighborhood, died on Aug. 30, WPLG-ABC 10 reported. Abe Coleman, a teacher at Holmes Elementary School in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood who mentored thousands of young men through the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, died on Sept. 1.

People who want to get vaccinated and are unable to visit Tuesday’s pop-up have a dozen other locations they can get vaccinated for free in South Florida, including at retail pharmacies such as Winn-Dixie, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Publix.

There are also county-run vaccination sites in Miami-Dade County, including at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and the Joseph Caleb Center in Brownsville. Broward County also has vaccine sites.

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