Florida expands vaccine eligibility to teachers, first responders over 50 as state prepares for Johnson & Johnson vaccine

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that Florida is expected to receive 175,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week.

The news comes as DeSantis also announced that he’d signed an executive order opening up vaccinations for teachers, law enforcement officers and firefighters, age 50 and older.

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He said he thinks the demand for vaccines among those 65 and older is decreasing, observing that places like Publix pharmacies are seeing a slowdown in when appointments are booked.

“It took a lot longer to fill up tens of thousands of slots than it did two or three weeks ago, so I think we’re reaching critical mass,” DeSantis said.

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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is less effective than the Moderna and Pfizer two-dose vaccines in clinical trials, preventing 66% of moderate to severe cases of COVID-19.

But in its trials, the pharmaceutical company said its vaccine was 85% effective at preventing severe illness and 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths 28 days after individuals were vaccinated.

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The vaccine is also said to be effective against the potentially more dangerous variants.

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.