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Demand For J&J Vaccine On Par With Pfizer At Most Florida FEMA Sites

Service member vaccinates a man sitting down at the FEMA site in Tampa.
Stephanie Colombini
WUSF Public Media
Demand for Johnson & Johnson shots was low at all the FEMA sites -- but demand for first doses of Pfizer was too.

Only slightly more first doses of Pfizer were administered at the FEMA-run vaccination sites on Monday than single-dose Johnson & Johnson shots.

Faced with a choice between the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines, Floridians who visited the state's federally supported sites on Monday were about evenly split.

It was the second day the FEMA sites offered the J&J vaccine since the federal government lifted a pause, put in place to determine risk of a rare blood clot.

All this week, patients can still choose to get the one-and-done J&J shot or get a first dose of Pfizer and return for a second shot in three weeks.

In Tampa and Orlando, it was practically a 50-50 split, with only slightly more people going with Pfizer, according to figures provided by the Florida Division of Emergency Management (see table below).

In Jacksonville, more people wanted Johnson & Johnson. That was not the case in Miami where nearly twice as many people got their first dose of Pfizer.

Monday's numbers saw a bump in J&J shots compared to Sunday when the sites first started using the vaccine again.

But demand for new shots overall on Monday was low at all four sites, which have the capacity to administer thousands of shots each day. The vast majority of patients who showed up were there for their second doses of Pfizer.

Here are the doses that were administered, by site:

4/26/2021Pfizer - 1st Dose |Pfizer - 2nd Dose |J&J - 1st Dose |Total
HUB: Jacksonville96482132710
HUB: Miami8483,6894955,032
HUB: Orlando5663,8865254,977
HUB: Tampa3523,5523004,204
Grand Total1,86211,6091,45214,923

Federal health officials had implemented the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to conduct a safety review. They discovered 15 women had developed a rare and severe blood clot out of nearly 8 million people who had received the vaccine. Most were younger than 50. Three died and seven remained hospitalized at the start of this week.

Health officials determined the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks and distribution resumed in Florida shortly after.

State officials say staff administering the vaccines have received additional training and COVID-19 vaccine consent forms now include language informing patients about the risks to help people decide if they should use the J&J shot or another vaccine.

The state will resume using J&J doses at its mobile vaccination clinics on Wednesday, according to Samantha Bequer, spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.