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DeSantis: Florida Should See Surge In COVID-19 Vaccines Soon

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
The Florida Channel
DeSantis says when demand drops among ages 65 and older, residents as young as 55 could soon be eligible for the vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose and was found to be 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

Florida will start to see a surge in COVID-19 vaccine supply in the coming weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.

Speaking in Brooksville at another pop-up vaccination site, DeSantis said he expects Floridians to have access to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by this weekend or next week.

The vaccine was found to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday and is expected to be authorized for use as soon as this weekend.

“Floridians, if all goes to plan, you should start seeing Johnson & Johnson sometime next week,” DeSantis said. “That's the plan that they are going to do — approve, they already have some produced and then they are going to send some to the states and we will be ready, willing and able to put that to use.”

The vaccine, which only requires a single dose, was found to be 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. It was 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease, according to the FDA report. The vaccine was less effective – 66 percent – at preventing moderate cases of the disease.

“There’s a lot to recommend from Johnson & Johnson,” DeSantis said. “No one wants to get infected with anything, but if you get infected and it’s mild and you move on, that’s a win.”

It’s not clear how much of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the state will initially get or how it will be distributed, DeSantis said.

DeSantis also said the state’s allotment of Pfizer vaccines will nearly double to over 200,000 doses per week soon.

And federal vaccination sites planned for Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami will each bring an additional 20,000 vaccines a week to the state.

“That’s additional vaccine beyond what Florida had been allocated,” DeSantis said. “It’s not coming out of what we had been getting or even any anticipated increases.”

The federal government also provided additional doses to some CVS pharmacies in the state.

“That’s pharmacy doses from the federal government over and above what the state of Florida is getting,” DeSantis said.

Florida approach has been to prioritize long-term care residents, health workers and seniors 65 and older. Nearly half the state’s 4.5 million seniors have received at least one dose.

With the boost in supply, DeSantis said police officers, firefighters and teachers 50 and older will be soon eligible.

“And then once we get to the point of the senior population where we start to see the demand go down,” DeSantis said, “then we obviously are going to lower the age and get people at the minimum 60 [years old], and maybe even 55, right off the bat.”

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Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.