More than 700 Brevard County teachers, staff and their spouses received the COVID-19 vaccine Jan. 23 at the Health Department in Viera.
Eligible employees ages 65 and older were notified and instructed by email on how to sign up for an appointment, the district said in a news release. Only those who had an appointment could get a vaccine.
“We have committed to doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our employees who serve on the front lines each and every day during this pandemic,” Superintendent Mark Mullins said in a statement.
“We are thankful for our partnership with the Department of Health and for this opportunity to help protect our staff who dedicate their lives to educating the future of Brevard County.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices lists teachers and school employees as part of roughly 30 million “frontline essential workers” who should be prioritized for vaccinations.
Communications director for Brevard Public Schools, Russell Bruhn said the district hopes to eventually provide all 9,000 employees with a ticket to get the vaccine.
“The vast majority of our employees — whether it’s teachers, bus drivers, other support staff — are on the frontlines. They’re interacting in schools with children and coworkers. So in our minds, we wanted to encourage employees by providing the opportunity to get the vaccine,” Bruhn said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly said that his focus is on making the vaccine available to Florida’s seniors. Older educators and school employees in medically vulnerable populations could get vaccinated, DeSantis said at a press conference earlier this month.
Richard Bernhardt of Melbourne, the husband of Brevard Public Schools employee Michele Bernhardt, said the vaccine day was well-organized and went smoother than he thought.
“With the opportunity to get the vaccine and knowing some of our friends who’ve come down with COVID, we made that a priority as soon as we were able to get it,” Bernhardt said.
“I feel relieved. We’ve been taking all the precautions that have been suggested. But it’s better to also get the vaccine, and we look forward to getting the second dose.”
Karen Baker of Melbourne, whose husband is bus driver Keith Baker, said she was hesitant about getting her shot because she’s heard wild stories about what the vaccine contains and its adverse effects.
“We obviously need a large majority of the world population to get immunity. So if this helps at all, I’m gonna be a part of it,” Baker said.
Bruhn said there are no plans yet for another employee vaccination day.