Federal sites in Florida will give shots to all school staff, regardless of age. State sites won’t, and county sites could go either way.
Tampa Bay Times | by Megan Reeves and Allison Ross | March 4, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared to yield to President Joe Biden on Thursday, suggesting at an appearance in Citrus County that all school employees, including day care and preschool workers, could be vaccinated in Florida, regardless of age.
But that’s only true for federal vaccination sites, Meredith Beatrice, a spokesperson for DeSantis, later told the Tampa Bay Times. State-run sites, like those by county health departments, should continue to adhere to DeSantis’ March 1 executive order, which says only K-12 school staff aged 50 and older are eligible for shots, she said.
Biden on Tuesday said that the Federal Pharmacy Program would “prioritize the vaccination of pre-K through 12 educators and staff and childcare workers” and that his administration wants “every educator, school staff member, childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March.”
The confusion came from DeSantis’ comments at a news conference in Crystal River, where a reporter asked him when school staff younger than 50 would gain access to vaccines, noting Biden’s comments.
DeSantis didn’t directly answer the question and instead said: “The federal government put that order in. They’ve made the teachers regardless of age eligible. They are eligible to get vaccinated per that order.”
He continued, reiterating that the state’s vaccination priorities are anchored by age but adding, “At the same time, the federal government’s the one that’s sending us the vaccine. If they want it to be for all ages, then they have the ability to go and do that. The pharmacies are obviously going to accommodate that. These sites will accommodate that. But our No. 1 goal is to get through the senior population.”
When asked for clarity on DeSantis’ comments, Beatrice said: “It’s our understanding that participants in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are following federal guidelines,” adding, “The governor’s executive order continues to prioritize school employees, sworn law enforcement and firefighters age 50 and over.”
Photo: Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared at a news conference Wednesday in Crystal River, where he announced a new vaccination site and addressed a question about which Florida school employees are eligible to receive doses. [ The Florida Channel ]