Duval County

DeSantis greenlights all Florida teachers to get COVID vaccine at FEMA sites

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE | March 4, 3:15 PM

This is a breaking news story. Action News Jax will update you on air and online as more information is available.

On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that all Florida teachers are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at Florida’s four federal site, including Gateway Mall in Jacksonville.


The federal COVID-19 vaccine site opened at Gateway Mall Wednesday in Northwest Jacksonville.

It was rather slow for most of the day. At around 5:30 p.m., officials at the site said 875 vaccines had been administered. It is capable of distributing 2,000 doses a day.

Traffic picked up when it got closer to closing time.

QUICK LINKS: How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Jacksonville area

The last-minute rush of people came as social media posts started circulating about who potentially was getting the vaccine at the location.

A person wrote in a Facebook post that, “A fellow teacher just got her 1st vaccine shot at the new vaccination center in Gateway. She said that the National Guard is working this location. She asked one of the members if you had to be 50 to get vaccinated and he replied that you just have to be over 16.”

Dozens of people showed up hoping to get the vaccine, but many were turned away because they were told they were not eligible.

Coronavirus vaccine: County-by-county plan for Northeast Florida, Southeast Georgia

Action News Jax reached out to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for clarification. FEMA said it follows Florida’s eligibility guidelines that permit people in the following groups to receive the vaccine now:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Persons 65 years of age and older
  • Persons under 65 deemed medically vulnerable by a physician (NOTE: You will need your physician to fill out a COVID-19 Determination of Extreme Vulnerability form that can be found here.)
  • K-12 school employees 50 years of age and older
  • Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older
  • Firefighters 50 years of age and older
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