SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Monday that will allow teachers, police officers and firefighters over the age of 50 to be vaccinated. The new order goes into effect March 3. This comes as Florida is expected to get 175,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine soon.
Teacher unions around the Suncoast are voicing gratitude and concern. Manatee Education Association President Pat Barber is one of those with mixed emotions.
“This is maybe one step toward what we hope the governor will recognize the need of school employees are,” said Barber.
Barber said DeSantis should expand access to all teachers, regardless of age. She feels that classrooms are not seen as a priority for vaccinations, and it turns out teachers aren’t alone.
The president of the National Association of Police Organizations, Mick McHale, said he applauds DeSantis for including law enforcement in the recent expansion, but hopes to see further expansion in the future.
“So as quickly and efficiently as possible, we would hope that these expansion goes beyond just those aged 50 and older,” said McHale.
As for firefighters, Sarasota County tells ABC7 while though they are part of the new expansion, many of the firefighters on their staff are already eligible due to doubling as EMT’s and paramedics.
Executive Order 21-47 expands COVID-19 vaccination to include the following:
- Long-term care facility residents and staff;
- Persons 65 years of age and older;
- Health care personnel with direct patient contact;
- K-12 school employees 50 years of age and older;
- Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older; and
- Firefighters 50 years of age and older.
In addition to hospital providers, licensed physicians may also vaccinate persons whom they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.