Florida could receive up to 175,000 doses of the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, as the state would be expanding vaccinations to include some law enforcement and teachers, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Speaking at a Monday morning news conference in Tallahassee, DeSantis said it wasn't yet confirmed that the new J&J doses would arrive this week.
"We think we will and we think it will be that 175,000, and if it is we're gonna obviously work to make sure that gets put into arms," DeSantis said.
Boxes of the new J&J vaccine began shipping out Sunday night after the FDA approved its use. The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
DeSantis said the J&J vaccine was a solid option for Floridians looking to get vaccinated.
"If you have an opportunity to take the J&J, take the J&J," DeSantis said. "Maybe you have your heart set on Pfizer, if someone offers you J&J my recommendation would be to take the J&J because it's an effective vaccine."
DeSantis also signed an executive order later Monday to expand the state's vaccination criteria to include law enforcement, firefighters and classroom teachers 50 and older. Some law enforcement and fire department employees have already been vaccinated but Florida has been restricting it to 65 and older and frontline healthcare workers.
According to Miami-Dade Public Schools, this executive order includes school site and direct contact personnel. That’s about 16,000 district employees who will now qualify to get the COVID-19 vaccine once the order goes into effect on Wednesday.
“We’re talking about school site employees working K-12 institutions. Teachers, custodians cafeteria workers, certainly bus drivers, bus aids, those individuals who have direct contact with our school population to be eligible for vaccinations beginning March 3,” said MDCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
In Broward County, about 12,000 employees ages 50-64 will be eligible with this latest order.
Jackson Health System in Miami said they were reviewing DeSantis' order.
"Jackson is reviewing Governor DeSantis' recent executive order expanding the age criteria for vaccination for some Florida residents, including school site personnel, law enforcement officers, and firefighters. We will announce any changes to our vaccination criteria tomorrow," Jackson said in a statement.