All school staff can now make COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Orange County Convention Center

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida teachers and school staff of all ages can now get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Orange County Convention Center, county officials told Channel 9 reporter Lauren Seabrook on Friday.

That’s a change from the day prior when school employees, law enforcement officers and firefighters age 50 and older could sign up.

“I thought I was going to have to wait another month or two, so I was very happy they opened the site over here,” said Peter Rodrigues, a teacher at Colonial High School.

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On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced he wanted school employees to get their first shots by the end of March. On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would allow federally run vaccination sites to follow the federal recommendation that teachers of all ages get the vaccine.

This led to a rush of teachers under age 50 to the vaccination locations at Valencia College’s West Campus and the Englewood Community Center.

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County officials said the change to allow all teachers to sign up for convention center appointments was made Friday morning.

The county’s vaccine website now reads: “All pre-K through 12 educators, staff and childcare workers are now eligible to get a vaccine without an age requirement. More information from the Governor’s Executive Order is coming soon.”

The registration website says appointments are currently available at the convention center. Click here to sign up.

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Combined, Central Florida’s eight school districts have more than 72,000 employees. Orange County has the most with 24,000.

Scott Howat, OCPS chief communications officer, said they don’t keep track of how many employees have been vaccinated.

“We won’t require vaccinations we certainly encourage those who want to get vaccinated to take advantage of it,” he said.

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School personnel of all ages have a few locations to get a shot, including the Orange County Convention Center.

FEMA vaccination sites and pharmacies including CVS, Publix and Walmart are allowing school staff to book vaccination appointments.

“I literally almost cried because I have a daughter and a senior mom,” said Maresa McNeill, a second-grade teacher at Vista Pointe Elementary School. “So I definitely feel more comfortable going into work now.”

Stay tuned to Channel 9 Eyewitness News for updates.


Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.