COVID vaccines to go to Florida teachers, police and firefighters; 175,000 doses of J&J vaccine expected

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 12:55 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs an executive order on Monday that will open up COVID-19 vaccination for K-12 school personnel, law enforcement officers, and firefighters who are 50 and older.

This follows the governor expanding the COVID-19 vaccine to those that are “extremely vulnerable” to the virus.

According to DeSantis, Florida is expected to receive 175,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after the vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Saturday.

“We don’t know for sure whether we will definitely get it this week, but we think we probably will,” said DeSantis about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “We don’t know how much, but tentatively, the numbers we are looking at for Johnson & Johnson this week is 175,000 doses - that not been confirmed yet.”

DeSantis hopes that with this shipment, they will be able to vaccinate this new group of eligible individuals.

RELATED STORY: Fighting COVID: Everything you need to know about where/how to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine in NCFL

“If you look at those numbers, some of the law enforcement and fire already got it, because we focused on first responders,” said DeSantis. “You’re talking about 20,000-25,000 people, maybe, and with the schools, we could probably do all of that, K-12 personnel and police and fire with our J&J shipment.”

This vaccine will join the largest shipment of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the state has received this year - the state is set to receive almost half a million initial doses of both vaccines.

In addition to the state’s allotment, the federal retail pharmacy program will continue to distribute vaccines to Publix, Walmart, Southeastern Grocers stores like Winn Dixie, and CVS. The state will also the addition for four federal sites to help vaccinate people, including teachers.

Last week DeSantis told reporters, he expected to lower the age of vaccine eligibility sometime in March - when he sees demand slow down. According to the governor, he already sees the signs that demand is lessening for the vaccine in this current age group.

“We are doing an incredible job with our seniors,” said DeSantis. “St. Johns County has done 78% of its seniors, at least one shot. Here in Leon, 73% of seniors had at least one shot, Alachua 67%, close by Gadsden County 65%.”

RELATED STORY: Nearly 4M doses of J&J virus vaccine on way to states

On Monday, Publix’s vaccine scheduling portal was open for more than two hours, which DeSantis says is a good indicator with how the vaccine roll out is going.

“It took a lot longer to fill up tens of thousands of slots than it did two or three weeks ago,” he said. “So I think we’re reaching critical mass.”

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