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Turnout low as Johnson & Johnson vaccine returns in Florida

The 80,000th vaccination at the Gateway Mall FEMA site was administered Monday morning to 19-year-old Tawza Brown of Jacksonville.
The 80,000th vaccination at the Gateway Mall FEMA site was administered Monday morning to 19-year-old Tawza Brown of Jacksonville. (Photo provided by Florida Department of Emergency Management))

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Turnout has been so low for the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine at Florida's FEMA-run sites that about 90% of the supply has gone unused following a 11-day pause, health officials said.

The federally-run vaccine site at Valencia College’s West Campus in Orlando only administered 268 doses of the 3,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines that were available on Sunday, site spokesman Ian Ohlin told the Orlando Sentinel.

For much of the day, there was “little to no wait,” Ohlin said.

A similar story played out in Miami, where by Monday afternoon, officials at the Miami had only administered 303 doses of the vaccine of about 3,000 that were available.

Shirley Harrison had planned to receive the single-shot vaccine Sunday, she told WSVN-TV.

“I heard was going on, and I just changed my mind. I said, ‘I’ll do Pfizer,’” she said.

Late Friday, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the pause, which began after 15 women, out of nearly 8 million people who received the vaccine, developed blood clots.

A federal advisory panel decided the benefits far outweighed the risks.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management tweeted that it was resuming the Johnson & Johnson shots on Sunday at the vaccination sites in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami after reviewing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

“The bottom line is, now you have options, you have choices, so you can get the Pfizer first-dose vaccine here at Miami Dade College North, or you can get the J&J vaccine,” the state agency's spokesman Mike Jachles told WSVN. “That’s an individual decision. If you have any conditions or any concerns, we urge you to speak to your health care provider first to see which vaccine is best suited for you.”

Valeria Ibarcena, 29, of Miami, said she decided to get the J&J vaccine, convinced the chances of developing blood clots were slim.

“The sample was very small. This side effect outweighs getting COVID, which is a serious disease. The J&J is one shot and you are done. Now I can go out with some confidence, even while wearing a mask,” Ibarcena said.

Through Sunday, 8,562,544 people in Florida have received at least one vaccination shot including 5,798,487 who have completed their shot regimen, whether it’s the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna option or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, state health officials said Sunday.

Also on Monday, the state added 3,513 positive COVID-19 cases to bring the total to 2,212,097. Florida's COVID-19 death toll stands at 35,600, health officials reported.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.