Teachers grateful for the opportunity to get COVID-19 vaccine as federal sites will offer it to K-12 employees under 50

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 12:03 AM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - All K-12 employees in the state of Florida, regardless of age, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but there is a catch. If the employee is under the age of 50, they are only eligible at any site that receives their supply from the federal government, which not only includes the FEMA run-sites in four Florida cities, but also at Publix, Walmart, Winn Dixie, CVS, and Walgreens.

Tonya Camaratta, a 7th-grade science teacher at Howard W. Bishop Middle School, is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine because of the Biden administration’s decision to open federal vaccinations to all K-12 employees.

“Knowing that we were a priority was a really good feeling. I think for most of the staff at our school, it made us feel like we were valued, which in some ways we weren’t feeling previously.”

RELATED STORY: Publix : Vaccine eligibility expanding to include teachers, child care personnel of all ages

Alicia McCord, a 2nd and 3rd-grade teacher at PASSAGE Christian Academy and an instructor at Sylvan Learning Center, thinks this opportunity takes away concern.

“We don’t have to necessarily worry about, OK if my student is in class, am I going to be safe if I’m around them. It just gives us an extra insurance policy to be able to teach and interact with them, and that is the main thing.”

McCord isn’t signed up to get the vaccine yet but said she is considering it. Camaratta was able to sign-up for an appointment at a federal site in Jacksonville despite her age and the state’s requirement.

“I feel relieved, and I also feel appreciated.”

Some of her colleagues are also taking advantage of the opportunity.

“A couple of us got appointments, and we were all kind of celebrating in the hallway.”

RELATED STORY: Fighting COVID: Everything you need to know about where/how to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine in NCFL

In Camaratta’s role, she interacts with many people, and this vaccine will help more than just herself.

“To know that I’m going to not only be able to keep myself safe, which is important in it of itself. I have a family. I have children. I have parents who are older. My father has lung cancer.”

McCord hopes this option can help parents who are concerned.

“It can give to the parents ease, that my child is coming in contact who chose to take an extra step to be safe.”

RELATED STORY: Florida governor faces growing charges of vaccine favoritism

The opportunity to get the shot is exciting for Camaratta.

“I mean, psychologically, it is a wonderful feeling.”

Both teachers agree this is certainly a teachable moment.

Camaratta says when she finally gets the shot, she will feel, “grateful to scientist, grateful to the administration. Overall just grateful, thrilled.”

In addition to teachers, child care workers will be eligible to receive the vaccine at these sites.

For more information about the “Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination,” click here.

If you would like to find out more about the Federal Sites here in the state of Florida, click here.

To find out more information about how to sign-up for a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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