TAMPA, Fla. — There’s a new push to protect one of Hillsborough County's most critical workforce from the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Tampa General Hospital announced a partnership program with Hillsborough County Public Schools to vaccinate all employees who are 65 years of age and older.
The program helps to ensure some of the district’s most vulnerable employees including teachers, administrators, bus drives, custodians and other school-based staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Department of Health-Hillsborough is providing the vaccine and employees who quality will be contacted by TGH to make an appointment on Friday, Jan. 22 or Saturday, Jan. 23.
“Absolutely, if I was to catch COVID and bring it home to my family my kids would be at a really significant risk,” said teacher Caitlin Cook.
Cook now teaches virtually as her three-year-old son battles Leukemia.
While her child is in the fight of his life, she won’t return back to the classroom until everyone has the opportunity to get a shot.
“I definitely think teachers should be prioritized,” Cook said. “Along with frontline workers because they are putting themselves at risk to do a very necessary service because not every child does well in a virtual environment.”
Superintendent Addison Davis sent a letter last month to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to include all educators in the next round of vaccinations.
"Rest assured that I will continue to advocate for all PreK-12 educators to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Superintendent Addison Davis. “Educators continue to take on critical roles in our community and it is imperative teachers, administrators and school-based support staff are protected. Each time one of our dedicated employees contracts COVID-19, it jeopardizes the health of our organization and diminishes the quality of the educational experience for our students."
Anna Rice, a music teacher at Chiaramonte Elementary, said as someone who suffers from a heart condition, she will be ready when the vaccine is available to all teachers.
“I think a vaccine would go a long way with helping educators, students keep our families safe," Rice said.