ORLANDO, Fla. – Health officials in Osceola and Seminole counties said on Friday the progress with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is welcoming news for Central Florida.
Health officials also said more underserved communities can be reached once there is more supply.
Dr. Todd Husty with Seminole County’s Emergency Medical Services said that with a 66% efficacy rate and no deaths in its trial, the community should be optimistic.
“I think everyone in Central Florida should rejoice a little bit as the J&J vaccine comes down the pike too,” Husty said. “In the big scheme of things, we are trying to push this thing down, have it lessened its impact on society and every vaccine, including J&J, this does that. So, let’s bring it.”
Husty added that people should be willing to get any FDA-approved vaccine.
“It doesn’t matter which one you get, just whatever somebody hands you, that’s a life preserver, grab it. You know if you are drowning, you grab the life preserver,” Husty said.
What’s different is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single dose vaccine, not one that requires two shots like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“The more vaccines we have available, the quicker we can protect our community,” said Donna Walsh, with the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.
Health leaders said more vaccines available mean more access.
“We will be able to provide all of the vaccines available to the community, and they can choose which one they would like,” Walsh said.
The Florida Department of Health in Osceola County said data shows a lower amount of minorities being vaccinated at its main location in Kissimmee. Health officials said with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requiring refrigeration storage, it will require less resources and logistics, making it easier to distribute to minority communities.
“We’ve seen underutilization of the vaccination site by folks from our Hispanic and African American communities. In turn, we’ve responded by hosting outreach events,” spokeswoman Jeremy Lanier said.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee plans to meet Sunday morning to discuss the next steps and if they, too, plan to recommend this vaccine.