HIALEAH, Fla. – Teachers and law enforcement officers 50 years old or older will soon be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
During a news conference Tuesday in South Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said plans are in the works to include the new age group at federal vaccination sites slated to open next week.
The operations, funded by FEMA, will open a location March 3 at the west campus of Valencia College in Orlando. The other three sites will be in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa.
“We want that to be open not just to seniors, but to sworn law enforcement and classroom teachers,” he said. “I think we’re going to have the ability to do that between these federally supported sites and some of the new vaccine that may be coming online, very, very soon.”
FEMA previously announced its plans to vaccine up 2,000 people a day per site. According to the governor, the doses of vaccine the federally run sites are receiving are separate from Florida’s allotment. This means the new sites are supplementing the number of shots the state can do.
DeSantis said as Florida is getting a boost in supply, he wants to use this additional capacity to expand vaccination efforts to a new group.
“We want that for 65 and up, but we also want that to be open to any sworn law enforcement, teacher -- I think we’ll start aged 50 or above,” the governor said.
The state has asked each sheriff’s office and police department to turn over records of how many law enforcement officers it has 50 and older and their willingness to receive the vaccine, according to the governor. After reviewing the information, state leaders figured Florida was ready to open vaccine appointments for them, beginning with the FEMA sites, DeSantis said.
As public health leaders work with federal officials to finalize vaccination operations, the governor also hopes Johson and Johnson’s one-shot vaccine will soon get approval. The company is expected to go before the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization approval Friday.
“As Pfizer increases its production, we still have seniors to do that’s still the priority, but we can take some and really knock out a lot of I think these folks, potentially pretty quickly. So we’re going to start for sure on these federally supported sites as new vaccine comes online, then we’ll see what happens.”