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Several retailers offering COVID vaccine to Florida teachers under 50

The Biden administration released guidelines this week, which are broader for educators than Florida's.
Credit: AP
Vials for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are displayed on a tray at a clinic set up by the New Hampshire National Guard in the parking lot of Exeter, N.H., High School, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Exeter. The temporary facility, operating out of a field hospital tent, administers both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

MIAMI — CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Publix, Winn Dixie and Walmart are vaccinating Florida teachers under age 50, circumventing state orders that continue to limit coronavirus inoculations to those over that age. 

Four of the chains, CVS, Publix, Winn Dixie and Walmart, also began vaccinating daycare providers, even though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet opened the vaccination program to them. 

CVS said it is following Biden administration guidelines released this week, which are broader for educators than Florida's. For teachers, Florida limits the vaccine to classroom teachers 50 and older who work in kindergarten through 12th grade. The federal guidelines allow daycare workers, preschool teachers and educators in elementary, middle and high schools to be vaccinated with no age limit.

“We’ve aligned with updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines by making appointments available to pre-K through 12 educators and staff and childcare workers in all 17 states where we currently offer COVID-19 vaccines," the Rhode Island-based company said in a statement.

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"The eligibility requirements for individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Publix Pharmacies in Florida have expanded," Publix wrote. 

The grocery chain says it will starting booking appointments for those who fall under this category on Friday, March 5.

Walgreens told 10 Tampa Bay it is also vaccinating teachers regardless of age and says it started vaccinations in a limited number of stores in several Tampa Bay counties including Polk, Manatee, Pasco and Citrus. 

"We are receiving a weekly allocation for the state of Florida that will be distributed across a limited number of stores in the following counties: Charlotte, Polk, Manatee, Marion, Citrus and Pasco," Walgreens wrote.

Beginning March 4, customers can visit Walgreens.com/schedulevaccine or call 1-800-Walgreens to find available appointments. Those who fall under the

The latest addition, Winn Dixie said it made the expansion in accordance with the new Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines. Daycare workers, preschool teachers and educators in elementary, middle and high schools will need to attest to their eligibility when registering, according to the grocery chain.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will prioritize all school staff and child care workers this month, following President Joe Biden’s directive on Tuesday. Other pharmacy chains participating in the program in Florida include Publix and Walgreens, but it wasn't clear if they would also start vaccinating younger educators.

The governor's press office declined to comment on the decision.

The Florida Education Association, the state teachers union, said it was still trying to confirm younger teachers are getting shots.

Tracey Burger, a 49-year-old Miami high school English teacher, said Wednesday that she was disappointed when DeSantis announced last week that she would not make the cut. Burger has barely left her house since schools closed a year ago when the pandemic began.

Then early Wednesday a colleague alerted her that after Biden’s announcement, the CVS Health website was letting younger teachers book appointments. She got an appointment for Saturday.

“I started crying with relief that I am on my way to 95% prevention,” she said. “I will still wear my mask and keep socially distancing, but I might consider going to an outdoor restaurant or show now.”

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Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale.

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