Gateway Mall in Jacksonville allowing teachers of all ages to receive COVID-19 vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Educators of all ages can now get vaccinated at the Gateway Mall in Jacksonville.

This news comes after Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, made the announcement Thursday.

The day started out very slow at the federally supported Gateway Mall site.

Gail Porter was in and out in a matter of minutes.

“Everything was nice, no problem at all,” she said.

But much like Wednesday, some people were still getting turned away.

Allison Steilberg was one of them.

“I was not eligible for the shot. I honestly did not think I was, but a friend of mine had been here. He’s not 65, and not in one of the classes that they are allowing through. He said ‘I got through,’ and I said ‘oh good,’” said Steilberg.

It’s unclear how Steilberg’s friend was able to get vaccinated despite not being eligible. But once the criteria were expanded to teachers of all ages, more people started showing up.

Teachers like Adrienne Baldwin got vaccinated.

“Duval County sent an email out to all the teachers today trying to coordinate the flood of teachers that are going to be coming,” said Baldwin.

At first, only teachers 50 and older could get their shots. But by Thursday afternoon, that guidance quickly shifted.

Before it became official, it was shaping up to be a slow day.  At one point, site operations were paused to get staff briefed on the changes.

Florida Congressman Al Lawson said it’s time to expand the criteria even further to include people of all ages.

“I think at this point that’s what we need to do. The vaccines are there, and more are coming down. And in this package we’re working on, we have more money in there for COVID-19 vaccine release,” he said.

With many continuing to wait their turn, for the COVID-19 vaccine Baldwin is glad she no longer has to.

“What does it feel like to finally get your vaccine?” asked Action News Jax’s Lorena Inclán.

“I feel free. I feel like I’m going to go eat a pizza,” Baldwin said.

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