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School Employees In Florida Can Get COVID-19 Vaccine, But Not Everywhere

Medical personnel with the U.S. Air Force are helping administer COVID-19 vaccine at the FEMA-run site in Tampa, which welcomes school staff of all ages. Photo: Stephanie Colombini

The state’s four FEMA sites and select pharmacies are some of the places where school staff of all ages can get their shots.

School staff of all ages are seeking COVID-19 vaccines now that Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded eligibility. But there’s only certain places they can go.

State-run sites like Raymond James Stadium in Tampa are only vaccinating K-12 staff who are 50 years or older.

Pharmacies participating in a federal vaccination program including CVS, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Walgreens and Sam’s Club are welcoming employees of any age.

Hillsborough County is also welcoming staff under 50 at its two sites at Ed Radice Sports Complex and Vance Vogel Sports Complex.

Pinellas County is inviting teachers and school workers over the age of 50 to sign up for appointments this week.

Other counties like Sarasota aren’t vaccinating any teachers at their community sites. Officials say they’re working with partner agencies to vaccinate those groups.

The four federally-supported sites run by FEMA in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami, as well as their satellite sites in those communities, are accepting K-12 school staff of all ages.

“Through these centers we’re hoping to make a dent in the virus and help everyone who wants a shot to get one,” said Hallie Anderson with FEMA external affairs.

Visitors must show state identification that proves they work for the schools.

Cars lined up down the block to enter the mass vaccination site at the Tampa Greyhound Track on Friday, but people don’t need a vehicle to go there. The site isn’t drive-thru. Everyone gets out and goes through large white tents to get their shots.

Appointments are encouraged but not required.

“You will be asked to make an appointment on site if you do walk up, so just keep in mind your appointment may not be for that same day based on availability,” Anderson said.

She recommends people pre-register at myvaccine.fl.gov.

The Tampa site can vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day and offers the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Visitors are asked their preference based on what’s available.

Seniors, health care personnel, first responders ages 50 and older and people deemed extremely vulnerable by their health care provider are also eligible to visit the FEMA sites. The latter group must fill out a state form that verifies their vulnerability, and they also have to be vaccinated by designated medical personnel at the site.

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