WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County leaders are moving forward with plans to help school employees who are 65 and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Tuesday, county commissioners voted to ask the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County and Health Care District of Palm Beach County to create a dedicated point of distribution to vaccinate employees of the School District of Palm Beach County who are 65 and older.
It comes after other South Florida and Treasure Coast counties partnered with local health departments to arrange for groups of teachers and school medical personnel to get vaccinated.
"We have a population of students that has been severely impacted since last March. And obviously, their educational experience has been dramatically impacted," Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth said. "We need to get them back on track as quickly as possible."
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Last week, the School District of Palm Beach County surveyed about 1,000 employees who are 65 and older to see how many would like the district's help in getting vaccinated.
About 200 employees said yes, according to a spokesperson.
"Are we making any effort to address that population?" Weinroth asked Palm Beach County health director Dr. Alina Alonso at Tuesday's commission meeting.
"We haven't made any decision to do any specific special groups for any one particular county group," Alonso answered.
Mayor Dave Kerner said that ultimately, it would be up to the Board of County Commissioners to ask the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County to assist teachers in getting the vaccine through community points of distribution.
"There is a lot of value, I think, from my personal perspective, in ensuring that the 65-plus age population that works in the school district and works with our students have some special access to [the vaccine]," Kerner said.
It's unclear how long it will take health officials to set up the POD for school employees to get vaccinated.
Last month, Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy sent a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking the governor to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all school district staffers, particularly those with direct student contact.
DeSantis has not granted Fennoy's request yet.
WPTV confirmed Tuesday that school districts in St. Lucie, Martin, and Indian River counties have all partnered with county health departments to arrange for hundreds of school employees and medical staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We're awaiting information to see if the Okeechobee County School District is doing the same.
The second semester started Tuesday for the School District of Palm Beach County, with roughly 20,000 more students returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms.
A spokesperson said the school district is encouraging all employees who are 65 and older and want the COVID-19 vaccine to try to make an appointment on their own.
Publix continues to remain the main distributor of the vaccine in Palm Beach County.
The next window to make appointments at Publix will open on Wednesday at 6 a.m. To make an appointment, click here.
Palm Beach County students, parents, and school district employees can get the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine by clicking here.
Dr. Alonso says PBC School Board surveying teachers to see how many 65 and up have not received the vaccine and how many want it. Dr. Alonso says nothing has been set up to give teachers priority to get the vaccine. Mayor Kerner believes it should, says this is a policy decision.— Michelle Quesada (@M_Quesada) February 2, 2021