On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that teachers and other school staff members would not be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccination.
“Not at this time,” DeSantis confirmed during his press conference at an Orlando Health hospital in Seminole County when asked if educators would be amongst some of the first to receive the vaccination. However, older educators and school employees that fall under the 65 and up age group can obtain the vaccine under DeSantis’ current orders.
This latest revelation goes against advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The committee classifies teachers and education employees as “frontline essential workers” who should be granted priority vaccination.
Last month, the Florida Education Association sent a letter to the governor asking for clarity on prioritizing educators in vaccination efforts.
Andrew Spar, the association’s president, said in the December 16th letter that schools have proved to be a source of COVID-19 mass spreading.
Spar believes that DeSantis “turned his back on educators in Florida” by not placing them at the top of the shot list.
“Once again, the governor continues to disappoint educators. He called 2020 the year of the teacher. Clearly, it wasn’t, by any measure,” Spar said during a phone interview with The News Service of Florida. He added, “Unfortunately, we continue to watch colleagues of ours get very ill from COVID and in many cases die from COVID. This is because we have a governor who is not acting in the interest of those who are on the front lines.”
Despite the backlash, DeSantis is standing firm on his stance that the elderly should be the only priority at the moment.
“The average person under 65 in our workforce has been in less risk than our senior population to COVID. So we’re going where the risk is greatest. We’re going where we can have the most impact on saving lives.”
This is just the latest in Florida’s tumultuous COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which was met with crashed scheduling websites and phone lines on Monday, as the Florida Department of Health was overwhelmed with demand for the vaccine.