All school, day care workers of any age can get a vaccine in Florida

The Palm Beach Post | by Jane Musgrave | March 4, 2021

Coronavirus vaccines will be available to all K-12, pre-K and day care center workers in Florida through CVS, Walgreens and federally run vaccination sites.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis had limited shots to K-12 school employees age 50 and up, the federal government this week said all school employees should be vaccinated.

Since pharmacies are receiving shots directly from the federal government, they must follow those rules, DeSantis said at two press conferences.

“The federal government is sending us the vaccines so if they want it to be available for all ages, they have the authority to do that,” he said during a morning press conference in Crystal River.

However, it is unclear whether he meant that state-run sites, such as the Palm Beach County Health Department and health care district, will also be offering shots to teachers and day care workers of all ages. The governor’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

DeSantis insisted he wouldn’t deviate from his “Seniors First” policy, noting that hundreds of thousands of people over the age of 65 have yet to be vaccinated.

“Our view is, if you’re 25, you’re just at less risk than someone who’s 80. That’s just the bottom line,” he said. “(Figures show that) 95.7% of COVID-related mortality has been above the age of 50. So, we think an age-based approach is best to reduce mortality.”

Jeanne Destine, 72, receives a first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event at Lake Delray Apartments in Delray Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Jeanne Destine, 72, receives a first dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination event at Lake Delray Apartments in Delray Beach, Fla, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THOMAS CORDY, THE PALM BEACH POST

In Palm Beach County, only one CVS is offering coronavirus shots. It is in Belle Glade.

However, CVS stores in Tamarac, Plantation, Fort Pierce and Clewiston are offering vaccines. Numerous stores in Miami-Dade County are offering them as well.

No Walgreens store in South Florida is offering shots. It is offering shots at locations in five counties on the state’s west coast.

The closest federal site is at the north campus of Miami-Dade Community College. Others are in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.

CVS and Walgreens offer appointments on a rolling basis as they become available. Appointments can be booked at their websites, and

Publix, which is the largest distributor of vaccines in the county, said Wednesday that it was following DeSantis’ order. That means only K-12 school employees over the age of 50 can get the shot.

However, while it will be checking identification to make sure people meet the age requirement, it won’t require proof that people work for schools, it said.

In the order this week, DeSantis said all K-12 school employees, police and firefighters age 50 and above can get vaccinated.

DeSantis said he decided to expand eligibility after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved over the weekend.

Previously, only those age 65 and up, healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff and those under age 65 with chronic health problems could get vaccinated. 

While he said the state is expecting 175,000 of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week, none will be shipped next week.

He has not specifically said how he will distribute them. He has said he wants to send some to doctor’s offices.

He has also said he would like to create points of distribution for police, school employees and firefighters, most of whom have already been vaccinated because they are considered healthcare workers.

Requiring only one shot, unlike Pfizer and Modera which are two-dose vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be easier to administer, he said.

With Moderna and Pfizer vaccines continuing to flow into the state and the federal government opening mass inoculation sites in Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, he said thousands of people will get shots in the next week.

He said he expects the age of eligibility will be lowered soon, allowing people as young as 55 to get a vaccination. “Certainly, this month,” he said. 

Featured photo: Residents wait in line during a COVID-19 vaccination event at Lake Delray Apartments in Delray Beach, Fla, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THOMAS CORDY, THE PALM BEACH POST

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