Health official: Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the way

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 March 10, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette

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

Marion County has surpassed 65,000 people vaccinated with more than 35,000 fully vaccinated.

The county also expects the arrival of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the next few days.

Mark Lander, the Florida Department of Health in Marion County administrator, said that while the health department hasn’t received any doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yet, they are on the way.

“Having an additional vaccine available in the community, especially one that is only one shot as opposed to two shots, will help speed up the number of people able to be vaccinated in the community,” Lander said in an email. “We want as many people who are able to be vaccinated to be vaccinated as quickly as possible, and this vaccine will help us achieve that.”

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a lower effectiveness rate than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson version significantly reduces deaths and hospitalizations from the virus. It is 85% effective in preventing severe illness.

“Data has shown that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is as effective as the other vaccines currently being used in preventing hospitalization and death, which is what’s of most concern when it comes to COVID-19,” Lander said in an email.

Health officials recommend that anyone who can get a vaccine should have one regardless of the manufacturer.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go to police officers, emergency workers and teachers 50 and older.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control recently released guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated (meaning it has been two weeks since they received the last required dose of a vaccine).

The CDC stated that it is now safe for fully vaccinated people to gather indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals without masks or social distancing. They can also be with non-vaccinated people as long as everyone is at low risk for COVID-19. Lastly, the CDC’s guidance said that fully vaccinated people do not have to quarantine or be tested if they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, as long as they don’t have symptoms.

Lander also said that the county finished contacting people in its initial list of 50,000 names for a vaccine appointment on March 7. Those who are eligible for a vaccine can register to be contacted for an appointment when a vaccine is available can sign up at

Walgreen, Publix, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Winn-Dixie locations are also offering vaccinations in Marion County.

Cases in Marion County continue to decrease, as the county hasn’t recorded a day with triple-digit cases since Feb. 25. Marion County has also reported nine consecutive days with a positivity rate below 10%. The county has reported over 28,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 877 deaths. Its 2.38 deaths per million in the last seven days is fourth in the state, according to the New York Times.

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