RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - North Carolina will be getting thousands of doses of the third COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration this week.
North Carolina Health and Human Services says they are expecting 83,700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine to arrive in N.C. beginning Wednesday. The federal government authorized distribution of the vaccine in the U.S. on Saturday.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require extreme cold storage, officials say, meaning it can be more easily shipped, stored and administered. N.C. NCDHHS is hoping this increased supply will help to ensure the equitable distribution and access to vaccines in “every community in the state.”
“Our constant requests for more vaccines have been answered,” Gov. Roy Cooper said during a press briefing one day before the shipments were set to arrive.
Cooper said the news of the third vaccine coming to N.C. means all frontline essential workers in Group 3 will be eligible to receive a vaccine beginning on Wednesday.
Group 3 includes first responders and emergency personnel such as police and firefighters, people who work in-person in manufacturing, food and agriculture, grocery stores, government workers and clergy, among others.
“A third COVID-19 vaccine means North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner, which will save lives and slow the spread,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
In the WBTV viewing area, local health systems have already been strategizing how they will incorporate the third vaccine into their distribution plans.
Mecklenburg County is set to receive 10,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses this week. “Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help prevent COVID-19 and is extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns,” county leaders say.
Mecklenburg County Public Health, Atrium Health, Novant Health, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management are continuing to work to prioritize vaccine for those eligible.
Novant Health leaders said last week they were discussing how they will implement Johnson & Johnson into their distribution strategy, but right now they are just excited to have more vaccine supply.
According to health officials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protects against virus-related hospitalization and death like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that are currently in use across the country.
There are possible temporary reactions, such as a sore arm, fever, headache or feeling tired and achy for a day or two.
Secretary Cohen says even with the vaccines being distributed across the state, North Carolinians should continue to follow safety standards such as wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing to fight the spread of the virus.
“COVID-19 vaccines and the continued use of the 3 Ws are the most effective ways to help North Carolina stop the spread of COVID-19, get us back in control of our lives and back to the people and places we love,” said Cohen.
One dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine proved to be 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness in a massive study that spanned three continents, the AP reports.
Some of those trials took place in Mecklenburg County.
Johnson & Johnson said it is initially providing a few million doses and shipments to states beginning as early as Monday. By the end of March, the company expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S., and 100 million by summer.
Below is information from Mecklenburg County leaders about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine:
- Vaccine Safety - The J&J COVID-19 vaccine was tested in large clinical trials to make sure it meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus.
- Who Should Get the Vaccine - The J&J COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in individuals 18 and older. The FDA and CDC are advising that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines and those who have compromised immune systems should discuss the benefits and risks of taking the vaccine with their medical provider before receiving it.
- Vaccine Side Effects - The J&J COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus. The potential side effects from the vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who receive the flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects.
- Vaccine Dosage - The J&J vaccine requires only one shot. (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses spaced three or four weeks a part to be effective.)
- Vaccine Cost – The J&J COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone who is eligible at no cost to the person receiving the vaccine, no matter whether you have health insurance.