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What expanded vaccine eligibility criteria means for local agencies

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 3:34 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Governor Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that soon, the state will be making COVID-19 vaccines available to teachers and law enforcement over the age of 50.

This announcement comes after news of four federal vaccine sites across the state that promise thousands of additional vaccines.

Those sites are located in South Florida and are said to be open as early as next week.

As of Wednesday, Gov. DeSantis has only said that this select group will soon be able to get their dose, but we do not know when or how.

Those additional federal vaccines will be at the select sites, but it is not known if those who are eligible will have to receive them at the sites, or if the vaccines will be dispersed throughout the state.

However, those in Tallahassee who are eligible say they are excited for the possibility.

As DeSantis promises protection to those on the frontlines, those like Alicia Turner with Tallahassee Police Department shares it’s an exciting venture.

“You know it’s exciting and it’s encouraging, we want to get to a point where we can see a little more normal. We have been on the frontlines since the beginning, COVID-19 didn’t keep our officers from being on the frontline as first responders,” Turner said.

But, how will distribution work?

Right now there are few guidelines.

Turner shared that the majority of those at TPD are under the age of 50.

However, those who have been vocal about wanting to receive the vaccine will be able to do so, as the agency is working with the Florida Department of Health to come up with plans for when doses arrive.

“At any point you have officers out in the community, and even the ones that are not necessarily on patrol, they are still interacting with others,” shared Turner. “When it comes to ensuring our officers safety and the communities, that anyone is interested is able to step forward and get those vaccines.”

A spokesperson with Leon County Sheriff’s Office told WCTV that at the beginning of the pandemic, their agency took a survey, and that information is held by their human resources department.

They will be giving vaccines, to all those who wish for it, prioritizing those who work heavily with the general public.

With a school district of over 2,000 teachers, Superintendent Rocky Hanna knows this option will benefit a huge portion of his employees.

“Our schools in Leon County have been open since August 31,” Hanna said. “Those children that are in our school, 20,000, our teachers interact with them every day, and a lot of those kids come with germs, and heaven forbid those are COVID germs. We have to take care of those people because they are taking care of our children.”

While Hanna says this is encouraging, he believes it is only the first step.

He explained, “If we again can move those medically fragile moved up on the list, then those 50 and older, it is certainly a step in the positive direction to get all of our teachers vaccinated.”

Hanna urges teachers to first contact their primary care physician, and if you happen to hit a roadblock, to reach out to the district.

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