With a third vaccine — Johnson & Johnson — arriving in Florida this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering allowing the age 60 and older group to get vaccinated in the near future.
DeSantis appeared at two press conferences Friday — Marion, in north central Florida and Polk county in central Florida, touting the opportunity for the new “J & J” vaccine and expanding the state’s vaccine efforts.
DeSantis still is focusing on the elderly population — 65 and older — but looking to expand eligibility for the next age range. That could be at 60 or older or even 55 and older, according to the governor.
“After that, we are going to be looking to reduce the age, and I’ll have an announcement on that, hopefully, sometime next week,” the governor said at the press conference in Polk County. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican who represents parts of Lake and Polk counties and the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined him at the conference.
Right now, state vaccination plans let people who are age 65 years or older, as well as K-12 educators, law enforcement and firefighters age 50 or older. There are some other categories as well, such as younger people who have health concerns and are eligible for COVID vaccines.
Federal vaccine sites and some federally supported retail pharmacies are going outside state guidelines and vaccinating all educators regardless of age.
The first J & J doses came last night — about 60,000, DeSantis said. Over the next few days, the state should be receiving 175,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
However, Florida will not be getting any more of J & J for the next two weeks, DeSantis said at the Polk news conference.
“This 175,000 is it for the next two weeks, but we think that the production will ramp back up and we’ll start getting more and more J & J,” he said.
There’s been some level of concern about the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and some Floridians are concerned that they will be less protected compared to the Moderna or Pfizer shots.
But there are some benefits to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The J & J vaccine requires only one dose for full effectiveness, unlike the Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccines which require two. And it is also easier to refrigerate and store.