During an announcement about expanding COVID-19 vaccine distribution to CVS stores around the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis said teachers and police who are 50 and older will likely be the next group to be eligible to receive vaccines.
“Because we have these extra doses, of course, we’re going to continue to make all of those sites open for our seniors, but the federally supported sites, as long as it works out to where the doses would be allowed for this, we want that to be open not just to seniors but to sworn law enforcement and classroom teachers,” DeSantis said from Hialeah on Tuesday. “We’ll start probably 50 and up for the police and the teachers.”
DeSantis also said that the state was polling law enforcement agencies to see how many officers would be interested in getting the vaccine.
According to the Tampa Police Department, 172 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus and 349 employees have received the vaccination, including Chief Brian Dugan who battled the virus earlier this year.
"After recovering from COVID-19 myself, I support any plan that can provide vaccinations efficiently, on a large scale, so we can reduce the number of people who will need to battle this virus and also look forward to returning to a level of normalcy in our daily lives," said Dugan.
Right now, only seniors who are age 65 and up have been eligible to get the vaccine. The governor did not specify when he expects Florida to get approval to expand vaccine eligibility.
The president of Florida’s largest teachers union tells ABC Action News, the Governor’s announcement does not go far enough in protecting some of the state’s most important essential workers.
“We know that we should be addressing and supporting those who are high-risk first and foremost and so our educators who are high-risk could in fact be under the age of 30,” said Andrew Spar with the Florida Education Association. “We need to make sure that our public schools continue to operate without disruption and the best way to do that is through making sure educators who want have access to that vaccine.”
In Hillsborough County, 391 teachers 65 and older have been vaccinated through the district’s partnership with Tampa General Hospital.
During that conference, DeSantis also announced that CVS Health will begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations at 81 select CVS Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy y más and Navarro Discount Pharmacy locations in 13 counties across Florida, including 67 of them in Miami-Dade County.
Participating CVS Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy y más and Navarro Discount Pharmacy locations are in the following counties: Broward (2), Collier (1), Escambia (1), Flagler (1), Hendry (1), Gadsden (1), Hillsborough (1), Manatee (1), Miami-Dade (67), Palm Beach (1), Polk (2), St. Lucie (1), and Volusia (1).
“These sites at select CVS Health locations will build on the progress we’ve made at existing retail sites and significantly increase access to the vaccine for our seniors,” said DeSantis.
Vaccine supply for the rollout in Florida, which is sourced directly from the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, will be approximately 62,000 total weekly doses.
Appointments for vaccinations at the select CVS Health locations will become available for booking later this week as stores receive shipments of vaccines.
The state said patients must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and people without online access can contact CVS customer service: (800) 746-7287. Walk-in vaccinations without an appointment will not be provided.
To hear DeSantis' full comments from Tuesday's press conference, click the video below.