MIAMI (CBSMiami) – All Publix pharmacies in Miami-Dade and Broward are now administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
There are 136 pharmacies between the two counties. They will follow state protocols by inoculating those 65 and older, healthcare professionals with direct patient contact, residents or staff members of long-term care facilities, and people determined extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by a physician.
READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccination Sites In South Florida
A Publix spokeswoman told CBS4 that people do not need to provide documentation to show they have a qualifying condition. They only have to communicate that they a condition as determined by a doctor.
Those eligible can make appointments Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings through the online reservation system at publix.com/covidvaccine .
Appointments will be made available as long as the company continues to receive vaccine doses from the state and federal governments.
Vaccinations are provided by appointment only, while supplies last. Appointments cannot be made by calling Publix or the Publix Pharmacy.
Paul and Janet Blankenhorn said this is what they'd been waiting for. They came to a Publix in Doral from Naples after months of unsuccessful efforts trying to schedule an appointment for a vaccine.
"We tried for weeks and weeks and weeks," said Janet Blankenhorn. "We just kept making our radius bigger and bigger and we were happy to an appointment today," she said. She also said it's a "great relief" to finally get the vaccine. "We've been trying and trying from one county to the next. It's a great relief. You cannot see me ear to ear smiling behind this mask."
The Blankenhorns are both 76. After making their online reservations, they process went smoothly. They'll return in 3 weeks for their booster.
"They were very well organized. They know how to do it. They know what they are doing," said Paul Blankenhorn. "We've basically been living in quarantine since last March."
FIU infectious disease specialist Dr. Aileen Marty applauds efforts to expand vaccination sites.
She told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "Right now it is absolutely critical to get as many people with a high level of protection to the virus as possible. Only when we have a great deal of us, 75 per cent or ideally 90 per cent with protection against the virus can we get back to normal. What makes it nice about having this at places like Publix is a place that people are familiar with and they should be able to provide a well-organized method to get the vaccine out to neighborhoods."
Publix is now offering vaccinations at all 730 of its pharmacies across the state.
The vaccinations are provided to eligible individuals at no cost. Those with health insurance will need to bring their insurance card to their scheduled appointment. Medicare members should bring their red, white, and blue Medicare Part B card. People without health insurance will need to provide their driver's license or Social Security number.
Meantime, a third vaccine is being distributed nationwide after Johnson & Johnson's one-dose shot was given the green light over the weekend.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expected the state to start receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of the week and hopes that ultimately the state will receive 175,000 doses.
Dr. Marty said, "I think Johnson & Johnson is moving us forward and I think it is important to have it available. This does not have the efficacy of vaccines like Moderna but it does help prevent hospitalizations and death which is most important. It is also important to know that it can be stored for long periods of time and doesn't require levels of refrigeration and that makes it easier to distribute and makes it less expensive to distribute."
WATCH: Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Begin Shipping
Nearly 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVIID-19 vaccine began shipping out Sunday night, and will begin to be delivered to states for injections starting on Tuesday.
J&J expects to ship about 20 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June.
Though the new shot is easier to administer and requires only one dose, it has shown a 72% efficacy rate against mild to severe/critical disease among US trial participants. It's more effective against severe forms of disease, with about 85% protection. Health experts say Americans should not be deterred by J&J's slightly lower numbers. Its vaccine was tested later than the other two vaccines, when infections were already surging and new variant strains were spreading more widely.
The J&J vaccine was also tested in South Africa when the troubling B.1.351 strain was dominant there, but it still gave strong protection against severe illness.
Health experts also say don't be picky about which vaccine you get. Experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci have said they would be happy to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if it were the only one available because all three vaccines getting distributed in the US are highly effective against severe COVID-19.
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