What does the J&J vaccine ‘pause’ mean for MDC North and the rest of South Florida?

Michelle Marchante
·5 min read

How will the federal government’s call to “pause” the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of rare blood clots affect South Florida sites?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the state will pause J&J distribution in accordance with the guidance issued early Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The governor, who recently received the single dose J&J shot, said that Florida has not seen any “significant affects” caused by the vaccine. A total of 510,247 people have received the J&J single dose so far in Florida, according to Tuesday’s vaccine report.

The J&J pause is affecting Florida’s four federally supported vaccination sites, its homebound vaccination program, its mobile pop-up vaccine units and select pharmacies.

Here’s what to know:

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CDC, FDA call for pause in J&J. Which vaccine site does this affect in Florida?

People leave the Miami Dade College North vaccination site where the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available in Miami on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
People leave the Miami Dade College North vaccination site where the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available in Miami on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

People 18 and older in Florida were previously able to get the single-dose J&J at the federally supported site at Miami Dade College North campus or at one of the other FEMA hub sites in Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando.

J&J vaccinations are now temporarily suspended at these locations. The state says the four locations administered a total of 407 J&J shots Tuesday prior to the pause. Of those, 134 shots were given at MDC North.

The state also canceled all 14 one-day pop-up sites that were set to open Tuesday, including the one in Homestead and Wellington. Florida’s homebound vaccination program is also being affected.

MDC North and the other FEMA hub sites will continue to offer second-dose Pfizer shots, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which oversees the state’s vaccine distribution.

The state is also reviewing its current vaccine supply to determine how it can supplement the FEMA-supported sites, the pop-up clinics and the homebound vaccination program, according to the division.

Hialeah and North Miami have also had to change their vaccination plans. A new vaccine site in Hialeah that was set to give J&J shots starting Wednesday will now give Pfizer instead. It will then close and reopen next week as a Moderna site. Similarly, the city of North Miami is switching its Sunday J&J vaccine appointments to Pfizer.

What about J&J shots at Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más and Sam’s Club?

Publix said it will not schedule J&J shots. Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Más are canceling their J&J appointments. Walmart and Sam’s Club said appointments will be changed to another vaccine, depending on supplies. If not, the appointment will be canceled and the pharmacy will work to reschedule your shot for a later date, once it’s able to do so.

What does this mean for you?

People 16 and older who received their first Pfizer shot at MDC North or one of the other main FEMA sites can still get their second Pfizer shots at the location as usual. The FEMA satellite sites in Liberty City and Cutler Bay are also still giving second-dose Pfizer shots through 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 13.

If you’re still looking to get your COVID-19 vaccine, you should start looking for a place that offers Pfizer or Moderna. That could be at a state-run or county-run site or at select pharmacies. (More on this later.)

The state is encouraging anyone who received the J&J vaccine and has severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination to contact their healthcare provider.

Hard Rock Stadium, Snyder Park and other state-run sites will not be affected

People line up in their cars to get vaccinated at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Monday, April 12, 2021. The site will no longer require appointments and has expanded COVID vaccine hours.
People line up in their cars to get vaccinated at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Monday, April 12, 2021. The site will no longer require appointments and has expanded COVID vaccine hours.

Most of the state-run sites in Miami-Dade and Broward counties give Pfizer while some offer Moderna. None give J&J. So, you can still get your shot.

Sites that require appointments include loanDepot park (formerly Marlins Park) in Little Havana, Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale, Tree Tops Park in Davie and TY Park in Hollywood.

To pre-register for an appointment, visit myvaccine.fl.gov

Sites that do not take appointments include Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens (preregistration is recommended), Bucky Dent Park and Babcock Park in Hialeah; the Overtown Youth Center; and Oak Grove Park in Northeast Miami-Dade. That means you can just show up and wait in line. Keep in mind that Hard Rock Stadium is a drive-thru location.

What about Miami-Dade run sites or South Florida hospitals?

County-run sites Tropical Park, Zoo Miami and Homestead Sports Complex give Pfizer or Moderna, depending on supply. People 16 and older can pre-register for an appointment at miamidade.gov/vaccine.

South Florida hospitals that have previously scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations, including Jackson Health System, Broward Health and Baptist Hospital, usually give Pfizer. Some hospitals will sometimes schedule Moderna. Check the hospital’s online portal for appointment availability.

Are COVID-19 vaccines still available at Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie, CVS and other pharmacies?

Yes. You can still try to get an appointment online for Pfizer or Moderna.

CVS Health, which owns Navarro Discount Pharmacies, CVS and CVS y mas, schedules Pfizer. Some Walgreens schedule Pfizer, others Moderna.

Anyone who booked an upcoming J&J appointment through Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más or Harveys Supermarket will be notified that their appointment is canceled, parent company Southeastern Grocers told the Miami Herald. The Jacksonville-based company is encouraging those with canceled appointments to check the online portal for Moderna and Pfizer appointment availability.

Publix usually schedules J&J shots on Wednesday, but that’s canceled because of the federal government’s J&J pause. You can still try to book a Moderna appointment.

Walmart and Sam’s Club will also no longer schedule J&J. Anyone who has a J&J appointment will either be changed to a Pfizer or Moderna appointment, depending on availability, or their J&J appointment will be canceled. The pharmacy will then work to reschedule your shot for a later date, once it’s able to do so.