VERO BEACH, Fla. — With Gov. Ron DeSantis expanding vaccine eligibility to school employees ages 50 and up, hundreds turned out Sunday at the Indian River County Fairgrounds to take advantage of the opportunity.
Superintendent Dr. David Moore said educators want to be with their students and to have the opportunity to have the vaccination and not miss time with their kids is something that is paramount for them.
The clinic was a closed event and coordinated by the Florida Department of Health in Indian River County and Indian River County Fire Rescue/EMS.
School district leaders told WPTV there are 901 employees ages 50 and older.
Tonya Robinson McDonald is a school bus driver within the district. She drove to the fairgrounds Sunday to get vaccinated.
"You know, this is good for us. We're able to transport the kids safely," McDonald said. "But we still got to wear our masks, wash our hands to be on the safe side, too."
McDonald said she was hesitant about receiving the vaccine at first but changed her mind.
"I had to fight through those thoughts," she said. "Better safe than sorry. I rather be here than to be there."
Sunday's second vaccination clinic comes less than a week following the governor's announcement of extending eligibility requirements.
Since January, Moore has been requesting the governor's office to extend vaccination to all school employees.
"It's very hard to social distance with 4- and 5-year-olds. So very difficult," Katie Knappman, a pre-kindergarten teacher, said. "So, yeah, I'm feeling a lot more confident about going in there tomorrow."
"We are in class, so I have to protect myself," Edouard Doyen-Jean, a Gifford Middle School teacher, said. "Hopefully this vaccination will help."
Moore hopes all school employees who want to can get vaccinated.
"As a result of our efforts today, we'll have about 45% of our faculty and staff to have had the opportunity to have the vaccination," Moore said. "That is a major step in the right direction for us as a school system."
Moore said there will be another closed vaccination clinic for school district employees in the coming weeks.