FEMA-backed vaccine sites could resume providing first doses of Pfizer vaccine

Move comes as Florida puts pause on use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

FEMA's COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia College's West Campus on April 4, 2021.
FEMA's COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia College's West Campus on April 4, 2021. (Homer Salcedo, News 6)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The four FEMA-backed vaccination sites in Florida — including the one at Valencia College West Campus in Orlando — could once again offer first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday. The news comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis put a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across the state. The halt came at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration after six women developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

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“The state is continuing to work with FEMA to determine how to supplement vaccination efforts while we await further guidance from the CDC and the FDA. Yesterday, FEMA indicated that it may be able to supplement next week’s Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the federally-supported sites with additional first dose Pfizer vaccines if use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still paused,” Samantha Bequer, Press Secretary for the FDEM said in a statement.

The state said it is working with FEMA to figure out the logistics of getting these additional first doses of Pfizer to those federally-backed sites. At the moment, there is no timeframe for when those Pfizer first doses would be available at the sites.

“The goal remains to ensure all Floridians who want a vaccine, can receive one. The state is continuing to explore all options in order to supplement vaccination efforts previously supported by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Bequer said.

Currently, the four FEMA-backed sites are only providing second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to people who were previously inoculated there. Those sites stopped offering the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 5 began offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine exclusively to new patients on April 6.

The state had said the move was aimed at streamlining the process at the federally-backed sites.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House Chief Medical Advisor, has said anyone who has received a J&J vaccine should not be worried.


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.