Jackson Hospital

Miami-Dade school employees 65 and older now have a one-stop shop to get a vaccine

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Miami Herald | by Michelle Marchante | January 21, 2021

All Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees 65 and older, including part-time workers, will soon be able to get COVID-19 vaccines through Jackson Health System, the school district said.

Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors and office staff are eligible. According to an employee database provided to the Miami Herald in a public records request, there are 3,837 employees who are 65 and older, or a little over 8% of the workforce. Of those, 2,159 work at school sites.

Employees will receive additional information soon, including how to pre-register for an appointment at one of Jackson’s three locations, the district said. Vaccinations at Miami-Dade County’s public hospital network are set to begin this weekend, with additional dates expected to be added in the coming days.

“Whether they are teaching, feeding, transporting students or maintaining our schools clean, our dedicated employees have always worked tirelessly to provide the best environment for all children,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement announcing the partnership. “Protecting the health and well-being of these essential workers is vital to ensuring student learning continues as we move towards stabilizing our community and the economy.”

Employees are not required to get the vaccine, the Miami Herald has previously reported.

FLORIDA EDUCATORS WANT TO BE A COVID-19 VACCINE PRIORITY GROUP

In December, Carvalho asked for MDCPS teachers and employees who have direct contact with students to be prioritized for the vaccine in a letter sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who oversees the Florida Department of Health. So did the Florida Education Association, the state’s teacher labor union.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists educators and other essential workers as a vaccination priority group, Florida isn’t focusing on them yet.

The state’s focus is still on healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff, and people 65 and older. Hospitals can also choose to give the vaccine to people who have health conditions that make them “at risk” of falling seriously ill with the disease.

While some teachers and school staff have been able to get the vaccine under Florida’s current guidelines, they’ve had to compete with other seniors to book appointments.

And as anyone who lives in South Florida knows, booking a spot hasn’t been easy.

Through this new vaccination partnership, Jackson Health President and CEO Carlos Migoya hopes to “get vaccines into the arms of educators and school system employees … people who are essential in our community and in the lives of our children.”

“This added layer of protection against the virus will help them continue to work and thrive in a safe environment,” he said.

South Florida colleges and universities have also done or are in the process of finalizing similar partnerships.

Miami Herald staff writers Colleen Wright and Sarah Blaskey contributed to this report.

Photo: Grace Meatley, a nurse in the intensive care unit, speaks during a press conference outside of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The conference was held after Jackson Memorial Hospital administered doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to its healthcare workers. MATIAS J. OCNER MOCNER@MIAMIHERALD.COM