Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s COVID-19 response efforts have long been embroiled in controversy. His COVID-19 controversies could be traced back to his decision to have students return to in-person school in Fall 2020, or more recently when he declared that the next wave of vaccine doses would allow teachers 50 years and older to become eligible.
During a news conference in Crystal River, Gov. DeSantis stated, “Our view is, if you’re 25, you’re just at less risk than somebody that’s 80, that’s just the bottom line.”
DeSantis’s proposed plan was in line with his previous methods of distributing the vaccine, but came at odds with President Joe Biden’s new federal guidelines regarding vaccine administration on March 2. Biden’s plan allows for all K-12 teachers and day care workers to receive the vaccine regardless of age.
This is an interesting development as Biden’s plan directly contradicts the strategy elicited by DeSantis in the weeks prior. This shift to include all educators was made at the federal level despite DeSantis announcing Florida’s plan was for teachers 50 years old and up.
The federal vaccine policy change has allowed several teachers such as Jennifer Milian, a 41-year-old teacher in Miami, as well as her husband, to receive the first dose of their vaccine.
When asked for her reaction, Milian told NBC Miami, “I almost didn’t believe it was true, I had been on the lookout for a while to see when it would be our turn. It turns out it was magically today.”
Biden’s new plan will allow for 339,352 teachers and staff members of K-12 public schools in Florida to get vaccinated. Businesses such as CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens have begun administering vaccines to all teachers K-12 in accordance with Biden’s directive, allowing a greater ease of access for this new influx of vaccine recipients.
On March 2, Biden told CNBC, “My challenge to all states, territories, the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, child-care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March.”
While this may be a lofty goal, especially in a state with the third highest population in the country, there are several individuals who expressed their excitement about the inclusion and extended eligibility. One of those individuals is Carolina Plested, a Spanish teacher for Hillsborough County in the Tampa area.
When asked about the vaccine by CBS Tampa Bay, Plested said, “Definitely sign me up! I’ll be first in line. I’m really excited to get it.”
Plested is one of many examples of educators in the public-school system who would have been exempt under DeSantis’s vaccine distribution due to her age but are now eligible under Biden’s federal authority.
DeSantis expressed the effectiveness of his approach of a ‘seniors first’ plan but did not express public dissent to Biden’s amendment to the vaccine distribution plan. Despite the continued controversy surrounding COVID-19 vaccine distribution nationwide, the addition of teacher eligibility will certainly help in safeguarding more American citizens against the virus.
Featured image: Public schools are prepared for students. Unmodified photo by Phil Roeder used under a Creative Commons License. (https://bit.ly/2PLi7NR)
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