It was announced on Friday that Winn-Dixie will be joining Publix and Walmart in offering COVID-19 vaccinations all teachers and school personnel.

What You Need To Know

  • Publix, Walmart to administer vaccinations to all pre-K through 12 school staff

  • CVS had already started offering shots to teachers, child- and day-care workers

  • Companies say they’re following federal guidelines, not state orders, on eligibility

Winn-Dixie, including Fresco y Más and Harveys Supermarket stores, will give out vaccinations to anyone under the age of 65 who is deemed medically vulnerable by a doctor, it was revealed on Friday, stated Tiffany Valla Hutto, a public relations account supervisor, in a news release. 

This includes teachers and educators.

"This expansion now includes appointments for newly eligible groups such as day care workers, preschool teachers and educators in elementary, middle and high schools to be vaccinated with no age limit, in accordance with new Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines," it was stated in a press release. 

Hutto stated that this is accordance with the executive order by the state. 

All three stores — which are owned by Southern Grocers Inc. — are offering an additional 5,900 Moderna vaccines in 124 Florida store locations, as long as supplies last, stated the news release.

In addition, all three stores will give out vaccinations to healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, and adults 65 and order.

"Medically vulnerable individuals under the age of 65 will need to present the FDOH form for physicians to certify that they are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and eligible to receive the vaccine," stated the news release.

People who want to get the free vaccine can visit Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, and Harveys Supermarket to see which stores are participating, the availability details, and additional information. 

This comes after Publix and Walmart stated on Thursday that they have joined CVS in offering COVID-19 vaccinations to all educators and school personnel, plus child care workers.

The action of Publix and Walmart, like that of CVS, follows an initiative this week from the Biden administration to get teachers, school staff, and child care workers access to at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March. Biden also said Tuesday the U.S. would produce enough vaccines for every adult in the nation by the end of May.

The U.S. government is providing the vaccine for free to anybody living in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website.

CVS told Spectrum News in an email Wednesday night that the pharmacy chain has “aligned with updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines by making appointments available to pre-K through 12 educators and staff and childcare workers in all 17 states where we currently offer COVID-19 vaccines.”

On Thursday, Walmart spokeswoman Rebecca Thomason told Spectrum News in an email that the company “will administer vaccines to those eligible as determined by the state and federal governments.”

“As patient eligibility requirements for COVID-19 vaccines expand, we will update our internal processes and online scheduling system to reflect those changes as quickly as possible,” she wrote.

For 31-year-old teacher Natali Vazquez, getting vaccinated is a huge relief.

“I feel a bit more secure moving forward once there’s enough immunity to go around. Now, we will actually be able to continue opening schools safely rather than just the way we have been,” she said. “It’s a big step in being able to open schools safely and to get our teachers back in the classroom next year.”

CVS offers the federal vaccinations at limited Florida locations, including Bradenton, Daytona Beach, Haines City, Lakeland, Palm Coast, and Plant City. The company’s website showed all of those locations Thursday as “fully booked.”

Walmart and Sam’s Club showed 119 participating locations, including throughout Tampa Bay and Central Florida, last month when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in Florida. Publix at the time had 593 such locations throughout the state, according to the governor’s office.

The companies’s moves come despite an executive order this week from DeSantis that expanded the state’s vaccination program but limited it to K-12 teachers age 50 and over. The state’s vaccination program is separate from the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, in which certain retail pharmacies receive COVID-19 vaccine supply directly from the U.S. government.

“The federal government put that order in, and so they’ve made the teachers regardless of age eligible. So, they are eligible to get vaccinated per that order,” DeSantis said early Thursday during a news conference in Citrus County. “Our view is if you’re 25, you’re just at less risk than somebody who’s 80. So the age-based approach, we think, is the most effective to reduce mortality.”

Walgreens told Spectrum News on Thursday that it will make K-12 teachers and staff, child care workers, Head Start, and Early Head Start workers eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

But Walgreens’s participation in that program doesn’t include Florida. Asked if the company plans to expand its participation to the state, a company corporate spokesperson said: “... we will provide updates and additional information as they become available.”

Winn-Dixie joins CVS, Publix and Walmart in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in Florida.

Representatives of Winn-Dixie didn’t return emails from Spectrum News early Thursday seeking comment on whether it would follow federal guidance in its vaccination program.