Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow COVID-19 vaccines for all teachers, school staff, childcare workers and farmworkers, to safely keep schools open and help protect industry workers against the disease.
In a letter to governor, Fried wrote: “It is imperative that Florida move now to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all teachers, school staff, and childcare workers – regardless of age – as well as critical infrastructure and essential workers including farmworkers. Our economy and our public health depend on this.”
Starting Wednesday, the governor allowed vaccinations for K-12 school employees 50 years older, among other groups, such as the elderly age 65 and older.
Fried said that’s a first step, but it’s not enough, given that President Joe Biden has already urged states to vaccinate all educators and school staff, as well as childcare workers, by the end of this month.
“Prioritizing those who work closest with our youngest Floridians is necessary to ensure schools can remain safely open and continue educating, feeding, and inspiring our children,” said Fried, Florida’s only statewide-elected Democrat.
“Furthermore, it is past time for some of Florida’s most essential workers to now have vaccine access, including farmworkers and those in the agricultural and food production industries, as I have requested since December,” Fried wrote.
She noted that, according to studies, “farmworkers face one of the highest increased risks of death from COVID-19.”