JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There have been a lot of changes and confusion just over the past few days regarding where school personnel can get vaccinated.
State officials gave the OK Thursday for federally supported sites, like Gateway Mall and its two satellite sites in Jacksonville, to offer the vaccine to any school personnel kindergarten through twelfth grade. This means teachers, bus drivers, daycare employees, head start employees and any other school personnel can get vaccinated at these federally supported sites.
"When that shot hit, I've got to get my second one, but I'm excited," Myra Vonn, a teacher at DuPont Middle School, said.
Vonn got her shot Friday at Gateway.
“I think a lot of us were feeling kind of put aside as non-essential workers, yet we see ourselves as very essential workers, so there was kind of a mixed message there, 'you’re essential. You have to be in the school building, but you’re not essential enough to get the vaccine,'” Vonn said.
Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene sent an email to Vonn and all DCPS employees Thursday letting them know where to get the shot. According to the president of Duval Teachers United, the Duval teacher's union, some employees were allowed to leave school to get one Thursday.
"I think a lot of the confusion was driven by the fact that the governor while saying it was important to have schools open, wasn’t demonstrating the importance and the appreciation for the people who work in our schools," Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said.
Spar said where school employees can get the shot has come with a good amount of confusion. It's confusion First Coast News witnessed at the Gateway site the past few days. State officials told us it is a federal site, while FEMA representatives maintain it's a state-site, federally supported and federally funded.
Governor Ron DeSantis said in a press conference Friday he will not be making any occupational changes to criteria state-wide, like adding all school personnel, and all ages to state criteria. He said age criteria will move to 60 and older, then 55 and older the week after that, which will be “soon” in March depending on vaccine supply.
You can make an appointment or walk up to get a vaccine at the Gateway site, or its two satellite sites. The Gateway site is located at 5200 Norwood Avenue, is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, and can give 2,000 doses per day. The two satellite sites are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and vaccinate 500 people a day. They are Hammond Senior Center at 3312 W 12th St, Jacksonville, FL 32254 and Normandy Community Center at 1751 Lindsey Rd, Jacksonville, FL 3222.
At the two state sites, Edward Waters College and Regency, all school employees over 50 can get the shot. Edward Waters College takes walk-ins and appointments and is open seven days a week 9 a.m. to five p.m. It's located at 1840 West 9th Street.
Regency takes appointments, and some days it offers walk-ins. Stay with First Coast News for updates on when that site offers walk-ins.
At all of these locations, bring your personal ID and your work ID.
"It feels like Christmas," Elise Horowitz, an adjunct instructor at Florida State College at Jacksonville, said.
Horowitz got her shot at Gateway Friday. She said FSCJ emailed employees Friday afternoon saying "We recently received an update on the status of vaccinations for educators and, based on new federal directives, we are pleased to share that all faculty can now receive the coronavirus vaccine at the federally supported Gateway Mall site."
First Coast News asked the FEMA representative at the site about this. She said criteria hasn't changed since yesterday afternoon, which wouldn't allow higher education employees to get the show. She said she wasn't sure how Horowitz and others were able to get it, and was checking with her supervisor.
As of 6:30 p.m., the FEMA rep at Gateway said this has been their best day yet. She said they hadn’t hit their 2,000 doses per day yet, though.