Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis announces school staff should not expect to be prioritized for vaccine

Miami, Florida, USA – June 12, 2020: Gov. Ron DeSantis Press Conference, speaking about the situation in Florida. Courtesy: Shutterstock – Photo by  YES Market Media

Bad news for teachers and members of Florida’s school system.

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday, January 6, 2021, that teachers and school staff should expect to be overlooked in the prioritization process for the COVID-19 vaccine, reinforcing his belief that first responders, frontline workers, and adults over the age of 65 come first.

However, the state’s largest professional employee association is pushing for all teachers to be eligible for the vaccine and is even in the process of getting signatures for a petition to send directly to DeSantis.

The Florida Education Association took to Twitter to express their sentiments about prioritizing teachers, saying, “The CDC recommends that educators should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine ASAP, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has decided to ignore the CDC priority list, choosing to play politics instead. Tell the governor to ensure educators have access to the COVID vaccine.”

Courtesy: FloridaFEA Twitter

DeSantis, on the other hand, backed up his stance on Monday, saying, “This is based on data [the decision], and if you look at the COVID mortality, 65 and up represents over 80 percent of the COVID related mortality in our country and our state. So that’s where we’ve got to focus.” 

On New Year’s Eve, Florida reported its highest single-day increase in total cases with 17,192 new cases. As of Tuesday, Florida had reported 1,392,123 total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 22,188 resident deaths.

According to the FEA website, 24 members of the Florida school system and family members have passed as a result of the virus as of Monday.

The loophole for teachers and staff to be eligible is if they are 65 or older and have underlying or preexisting medical conditions. 

Last month, Andrew Spar, the president of FEA, sent a letter to Governor DeSantis asking for teachers to be placed on Florida’s priority list, saying, “It is clear from the number of educators and students who have had to isolate at home because of illness or exposure, that our schools remain a source of community spread of COVID-19.”

Unfortunately, school staff members will likely have to wait longer than expected due to the vaccine’s slow rollout. As of Monday, 287,776 people had received the first dose of either Moderna or Pfizer’s vaccine per Florida’s Department of Health.

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