'#IGotMyShot': Orange County announces vaccine hesitancy program

Orange County leaders are taking action to urge people to get vaccinated despite a speed bump with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

To help encourage residents to get vaccinated and debunk vaccine myths, Orange County announced a major vaccine hesitancy program on Wednesday.

The partnership involves the help of the Florida Department of Health, City of Orlando, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and several other groups.

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings spoke about the program at a mobile COVID-19 vaccine trailer in Downtown Orlando, explaining that research and national trends show that people are hesitant to get the shot because of access and the misperception that the shot gives you COVID-19.

"Nothing can be further from the truth," he said. "The #IGotMyShot campaign begins today to address vaccine hesitancy. The campaign will debunk vaccine myths, highlight trusted voices in the community, and encourage residents to get vaccinated and become advocates to their friends and families."

Mayor Demings wants those who have already received a COVID-19 shot to share a selfie onto social media while tagging the Orange County government and using the hashtag #IGotMyShot. 

He encourages residents to visit http://ocfl.net/igotmyshot for more information.

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Federal health officials on Tuesday recommended a "pause" on the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in order to investigate reports in the U.S. of a rare type of blood clotting following vaccination.

However, experts say that even if one vaccine is put on hold, there are two other options.

"Hesitancy, when there’s something like this you know --  rare clotting disorder -- that’s substantiated. That’s warranted. They deserve the right to know that the vaccines that they’re putting in their arms are safe and effective," said University of South Florida epidemiology associate professor Dr. Jason Salemi.

Epidemiologists say the news about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine shouldn’t make people more hesitant about getting vaccinated, but should actually make them more willing to trust that the government and scientists are doing everything they can to get this right.

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"There’s never zero-risk associated with anything. But if you balance everything out, you look at the benefits versus risks, I still think it’s largely in favor of getting vaccinated," Dr. Salemi added.

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