Orlando FEMA site now offering Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Vaccine site now offering up to 3,000 shots per day

The newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now being distributed at the FEMA vaccination site in Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now being distributed at the FEMA vaccination site in Orlando.

FEMA officials made the announcement Friday morning during a news conference with U.S. Rep. Val Demings.

“They are administering that (the J&J vaccine) today. It’s a person’s choice, up to 500, though,” said Gracia Szczech, regional administrator at FEMA, region 4.

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People arriving at the FEMA site will have a choice of which vaccine they want, either J&J or Pfizer, but only 500 doses of the J&J are available.

Diana Praytor, a MetroWest Elementary School extended day care teacher, was surprised she was given a choice. She opted for the single-dose vaccine.

“I had no idea I had a choice,” Praytor said. “They gave us a choice. They had Pfizer or the Johnson and Johnson and they were starting to run out of Johnson and Johnson right as I was going around the corner, but I got the Johnson and Johnson.”

She was one of the first 500 to be able to choose before the site ran out of the J&J vaccine by noon.

“I’m done. I texted my daughter ‘I just got the single-dose Johnson and Johnson so I am good to go,’” she said. “It’s just time-wise, you to know to make these trips and stuff. People are busy and I just wanted to do it with one thing.”

Szczech said each FEMA site is receiving 6,000 J&J doses per week. She said 500 doses will be used each day at the main site with another 500 going to one of the satellite sites.

Gov. Ron DeSantis previously stated that Florida would receive more than 175,000 doses of the J&J vaccine this week, but added that allotment would be all the state would see for at least two weeks.

With the addition of the J&J vaccine, the Orlando FEMA site is also increasing its daily capacity to 3,000 doses total, according to Tim Beattie, with the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

“When we started getting the Johnson & Johnson, that allowed us to be able to increase that (capacity) a little bit,” Beattie said. “Our whole thing is we want to get as many shots into people as we can and so with that, we’re happy to do that.”

He added the two mobile units will also still offer 500 doses each, with one offering only Pfizer and the other only J&J.

Beattie also said efforts are underway to improve shade covering for people as they wait in line to receive the vaccine, with more tents going up Saturday at the site in a parking lot at Valencia College, West Campus.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.