With 18% vaccinated, some in Jacksonville still skeptical about shot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As all adults in Florida and Georgia are now eligible to be vaccinated, the lines at vaccination sites visited by News4Jax have been steady but not long.

As of Wednesday, 402,181 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Duval County. About 18% of Jacksonville has been fully vaccinated and 30% of the population has received at least one dose.

But there is still reluctance by some people to get the shot. Charles Thompson is one of the skeptics.

The 51-year-old said he would not get the vaccine anytime soon despite being infected with COVID-19 a year ago.

“I almost died,” Thompson said. “I could not breathe. I could not do anything.”

News4Jax asked why that would keep him from getting vaccinated.

“I’m afraid of [the vaccine] because I’m afraid I’m going to get sick again,” Thompson said.

Thompson is not alone.

But Chad Neilsen at UF Health in Jacksonville stresses the vaccines are safe. He works with infectious diseases at the hospital and says the vaccine does not contain a live virus.

With more than 63 million people fully vaccinated nationwide, the side effects have been minimal in comparison. Neilsen says that while people are worried about the vaccine, they should be more worried about the virus’s effects.

Dorsey Olbridge also spoke with News4Jax on Wednesday. She has been vaccinated and is more than 5 months pregnant.

“I got it because I was worried about the extra risk with pregnancy and getting sicker when you’re pregnant,” Olbridge said. ”I think it’s much safer to get the vaccine.”

State health officials sent out an emergency phone alert on Wednesday letting people know the vaccine is available to all adults at the Gateway Mall site and those 16 and older at the Regency Square vaccine site.

Anyone who goes to the Gateway site to get vaccinated for the first time will get the Johnson & Johnson shot.

There have been concerns about the availability of the J&J vaccine because of a mix-up in manufacturing which forced the company to toss out 15 million doses. Data from the federal government shows Florida’s supply of that vaccine will be cut for next week by more than 275,000 compared to this week’s supply.

News4Jax received a statement from the Department of Emergency Management Wednesday afternoon:

“At this time, the state does not expect that this decreased allocation will impact any state vaccination efforts. The state primarily uses the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the federally-supported vaccination sites and the one-day mobile vaccination clinics. The state is prepared to continue these efforts, even with the smaller allocation for the upcoming week.”

About the Author: