Wednesday marks a big turning point in the fight against COVID-19 in Florida.
A new executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis allows for sworn law enforcement officers, firefighters, and K-12 school employees who are 50 and older to have access to the vaccine.
While Publix is not the only source of vaccine appointments, it has been a major one in Palm Beach County. Beginning at 7 a.m. this morning, the Publix appointment booking window will open and these new priority groups can try for an appointment. You can sign-in here.
Palm Beach County teacher Scott Houchins says while this is a step in the right direction, he wants to see availability expanded even more.
"This is definitely a game changer because now I have the option to either get it or not, but now it's my decision," he says. "I have been disappointed that the school personnel especially those at risk who are under 65 who really want to have access to the vaccine haven't yet been able to get it."
Publix is now booking appointments for all of its pharmacies across the state. A spokesperson tells us the governor's order does not require people to show documentation to prove they are part of one of these new eligible groups. Each pharmacy would have to develop its own system to verify only those eligible are receiving the vaccine.
Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy sent a letter to employees late Tuesday updating them about the changes. In the letter, he says the state recommends those 50 and older bring a form of work identification with them to their vaccine appointment. He says this expansion allows not only teachers 50 and older but bus drivers, custodians, substitute teachers, school counselors, paraprofessionals, and others school district employees to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Winn-Dixie pharmacies are making changes this week to implement a system without creating an "excessive burden of verification on pharmacy teams."
Walmart and Sam's Club sites have been updated to show the new eligible groups.
The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County said those who now qualify for the vaccine can use the state’s appointment list to go on the county’s waitlist.