80% vaccination may be needed with variants spreading

Florida will have far fewer J&J vaccine doses available next week

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – As steady demand continues at South Florida’s federal vaccination site, with many young adults coming to get Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine, CDC data shows that the number of those J&J doses in the state is expected to drop next week.

Florida, which received more than 300,000 J&J shots this week, will get 37,000 next week. It follows reports that a mixup at a Baltimore plant led to about 15 million doses of that vaccine being ruined.

While more Americans now have access to a vaccine — the current 7-day average is 3 million vaccinations per day, up from 2.9 million last week — the community spread of variants remains troubling to experts.

“[They] lead to a higher viral load in each person, and that higher viral load means two things automatically. No. 1, they have more virus to share, so it’s more contagious. And No. 2, they have more virus to contend with in their own bodies,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

Marty believes with variants in the mix, we would need to see at least 80% of the population vaccinated to reach community immunity.

Florida has by far the most verified variant cases in the country. The latest CDC numbers show 3,494 cases of the U.K. (B.1.1.7) strain in Florida, 87 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant and 25 cases of the South African (B.1.351) strain.

The variants could also be one of the factors contributing to a slight uptick in hospitalizations.

J&J reactions

A small percentage of people are saying they have experienced adverse reactions like fatigue from the Johnson & Johnson shot.

North Carolina health officials said on Thursday that they stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at a mass vaccination site in Raleigh and at clinics in two other North Caroline cities after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, including fainting.

The CDC said Friday that it’s safe for those North Carolina vaccine clinics to continue administering the vaccine.

“The reactions that have been documented are mild, in general. They have mostly all happened in that 15-minute time frame when we monitor people and it is still a very small percentage of the people who have been vaccinated that have had a reaction,” Marty said.

A CDC spokeswoman sent the following statement to Local 10 News when asked about the safety of J&J vaccines:

“CDC is aware of several incidents of vaccine recipients experiencing dizziness, light headedness, feeling faint, rapid breathing, and sweating (vasovagal or anxiety-related) symptoms following COVID-19 vaccines in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina.

“CDC is working closely with each of the state and local health departments to evaluate these incidents. CDC has performed vaccine lot analyses and has not found any reason for concern.  Currently CDC and FDA are not recommending health departments stop administering any lots of COVID-19 vaccine.

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Many people don’t have any side effects after COVID-19 vaccines, but some people will have pain or swelling at the injection site or fever, chills, or a headache.  These typically don’t last long and are signs that your body is building protection.”

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