LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — Greg Loumanis is a science teacher at Osceola Creek Middle School. He said once he and several other teachers confirmed their eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations, they quickly made appointments. He said the group was also quickly denied.
"They were uninformed that anybody working for a school, regardless of their position, could get the vaccine, and I was turned down after 30 minutes in line," he said.
Recently, President Joe Biden urged states to vaccinate pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers and school staff. He asked for at least one dose to every teacher and staff member by the end of the month.
The president's plan to administer those shots is through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program partners like Publix and Walmart. That means only certain sites are open to teachers regardless of age.
"I had COVID back in June, so I've been a nervous wreck being back on campus with kids," teacher Nicole Blackson said.
Blackson initially tried pharmacy locations but had no luck lining up an appointment time. When she was able to schedule an appointment for the South Florida Fairgrounds, she did not expect to be turned away as the state's criteria remain focused on school workers 50 and up.
"You go through a couple of checkpoints and I didn't ask any questions," she said. "They just asked for my ID and then passed me along to the vaccine line."
Loumanis said it's frustrating to take a day off from work and show up only to get turned away.
"I wasted my day to try to protect my kids and myself and nothing," he said.