school nurse.jpg

While frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and other facilities have gotten priority for COVID vaccines, not everyone knows that Florida’s school nurses are eligible for the shots as well.

School nurses not only have regular duties but also handle COVID-19 issues, from reporting and isolating potentially infected students to identifying and notifying people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, called contact tracing.

More than 1,500 school nurses are employed in Florida’s public schools, as of 2019-20, according to the Department of Education. That state has 67 school districts.

The school nurses can get vaccinated, according to an email by the Florida Department of Health, because, “as health care workers with direct patient contact, [school nurses] are eligible to receive the [COVID] vaccine in Florida.”

As such, local health departments are helping with vaccine distributions to school nurses.

However, not all school nurses are taking advantage of the shots.

Meanwhile, teachers and other staff still don’t have the go-ahead to get the shots in Florida. That’s because, for now, Gov. Ron DeSantis is focusing on vaccinating the elderly, meaning residents age 65 and older. (Some teachers will be in that age range and could be vaccinated.)

Administrators say access to the vaccine offers stress relief for school nurses who want the shots, in part because COVID-19 has increased their daily workload and the nurses face potential exposure to the virus.

In a typical year, school nurses’ responsibilities include ensuring students properly take prescription medicines, counseling students with health difficulties such as asthma and diabetes, and confirming that students have their immunizations up to date.

In Miami-Dade County, School Nurse Practitioner job description include “Applies nursing principles and techniques in the care and treatment of patients (infants/toddlers). For the complete MDCPS school nurse job description, click here.

This report first appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to coverage of state government and politics from Tallahassee.