Manatee County school employees get COVID-19 vaccines

For Gary Taylor, one shot brings instant relief. Taylor has been a school bus driver with the Manatee County School District for 9 years. COVID-19 never stopped him from doing his job, but it's been an every-day worry, until now. 

"I just got my shot. Yahoo!" he said. "There's hope at the end of this tunnel."

MCR Health is one of the largest primary care providers in the area. It requested the COVID-19 vaccine but has yet to receive it, so the Manatee County Department of Health shared 300 doses of its vaccine allotment to vaccinate people like Taylor.

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

MCR Health was able to offer a two-day vaccination clinic for school district employees who are 65 or older. The Manatee County school district has nearly 300 employees who fit in that category.

Those who wanted the vaccine were able to schedule an appointment. 

"What I'm doing is not just for the public that comes near me, but for school, co-workers, students and for my husband who is more high risk than me," said Miriam Ortiz. 

Many like Ortiz had been waiting in the Manatee County vaccine pool with thousands of others. 

"We need our kids in school. We want everyone to be safe and it’s an honor for us to go over and take care of the district employees 65 and older," said Patrick Carnegie, the president and CEO of MCR Health. 

He said they hope to put more shots in arms soon.

"As soon as we can get those allocations down to us we can really get out there and help with vaccinating more people in the area," he said. 

For now, vaccinating and protecting those who work with students was key. 

"It is a weight lifted off my shoulders," said Ortiz.