The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida has been shaky at best. Gov. Ron DeSantis has emphatically underscored the sense of urgency the state of Florida has had with only vaccinating its seniors 65 years old and older.
Unfortunately, this decision has been devastating for many Florida residents. Thousands of essential workers continue to search for ways to get vaccinated, even if it means circumventing the system.
After putting their lives on the line every day for the past year, many are asking why they would not be among the first to receive the COVIDvaccine.
“At my workplace things are exceptionally bad. The store’s managers, owners, etcetera aren’t enforcing the mask policy sign at all. And the other day I counted that I had interacted with at least 60 non-masked individuals. Only three of my coworkers correctly and consistently wear masks.” Hannah Chism said. Chism is an essential worker at Ace Hardware.
“Essential workers and teachers in Florida haven’t even been able to sign up for the vaccine queue. But according to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci we’re about to go into open season? This is governmental failure,” she added.
Chism lives with her mother, a public high school teacher who, like her daughter, has not been able to receive the vaccine. Chism says that while students wearing masks hasn’t been an issue in her mother’s school, teachers are left in the dark when it comes to their own health and safety.
“Because of HIPAA, [teachers] aren’t allowed to know if their students have COVID-19 or not. Meaning they can’t know if they’ve been exposed. They get notified that someone in the school had it — and the kids apparently have a little digital icon that shows they are at home for some kind of sick leave. But that could be anything or even quarantining because of family members having it, or the like.” Chism said.
Many essential workers are on their last legs financially and are struggling to make ends meet. After the economy lost over 22 million jobs last spring, work has become scarce, leading to the highest economic fallout since the Great Depression.
The city of Tallahassee does not have any strict protocols regarding masking and social distancing except on public transportation. This is a huge blow to essential and frontline workers who continue to rigorously follow CDC COVID guidelines not just for themselves but for their loved ones at home.
Despite their grueling efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in their workplace and at home, having the opportunity to get vaccinated would provide essential and frontline workers a peace of mind, laying their worst fears to rest.