Florida halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine

RN Latonjia Washington gives a patient their COVID vaccine at Top of the World in Ocala, Florida, Friday, March 5, 2021. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent] 2021

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Posted April 13, 2021 | News Service of Floirda

RN Latonjia Washington prepares to give a patient their COVID-19 vaccine at Top of the World in this March file photo. The state halted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of severe reactions in other parts of the country. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was recently vaccinated with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, said Tuesday that Florida would halt the vaccine’s use following a recommendation from federal health authorities.

DeSantis said he understood the need for caution because the vaccine was only approved for emergency use, but he added that he did not think Floridians need to worry. He said the only effect he experienced was that his arm was “sore for 45 minutes” and said the Johnson & Johnson track record in the state had been good.

“I don’t think people should be freaking out,” the governor said during a news conference. “We’re following the recommendation to pause in the meantime. We are going to look closely at what they end up saying and doing. But my hope would be that this is something that is a little bit of a speed bump.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot.

Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in a statement that President Joe Biden’s administration did not anticipate the pause would have a “significant impact” on ongoing vaccine plans. He said the administration was receiving enough doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to ensure enough supply to maintain the current national pace of 3 million shots a day.

DeSantis echoed that, telling reporters that he expected Florida would continue to have a “robust” supply of doses. While the state received 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week, he said that number had already been scheduled to be reduced because of production issues. More than 7.29 million people in Florida have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the latest available data.

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