Newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine set to accelerate Alabama’s vaccination process
Federal regulators in recent days approved a third vaccine product for use by the public, a decision that is set to enhance Alabama’s vaccination efforts.
Developed by the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the newly approved vaccine is administered in a single dose. The other two approved products, from Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses given weeks apart.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced Monday that 40,100 doses of the new vaccine product will be shipped to the Yellowhammer State this week.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine product was 100% effective at preventing death from COVID-19 in a worldwide clinical study that enrolled 43,783 participants, more than a third of whom were over age 60.
A recipient of the J&J vaccine is considered vaccinated 28 days after receiving the shot with the product.
“This is a fantastic vaccine, it works really well after one shot,” said Paul Goepfert, M.D., professor of medicine at UAB and director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic, during a media briefing on Monday. “I would highly recommend you take it and not wait.”
In terms of preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19, the most commonly reported vaccine metric, the Johnson & Johnson product was 66% effective worldwide and 72% effective in the United States. The same rate for Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine products is around 94%. All three products have been 100% effective at preventing hospitalization from the coronavirus.
An additional benefit of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it can last for three months in a refrigerator, making it able to be stored virtually everywhere in the United States. Moderna’s product requires a freezer and Pfizer’s requires ultra-cold storage that is usually only available at hospitals.
ADPH said the 40,100 doses of the J&J product will be integrated into the state’s previously existing allocation process. Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, urged the public last week to take whatever vaccine product was being offered at their local clinics.
Alabama has administered over 100,000 doses of vaccine product every seven days since the week ending January 23, and that rate has risen to more than 130,000 doses in each of the last three weeks.
ADPH says 617,768 Alabamians have gotten a dose of the vaccines, which is equivalent to 12.6% of the state’s total population.
According to ADPH, Alabama will receive 140,000 first doses of vaccine product this week when incorporating the J&J product.
Johnson & Johnson said in a press release that it will deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine to the United States in the first half of 2021.
ADPH said the 40,100 doses Alabama is getting this week is a one-time allocation, and the department could not provide an estimate for what the state could expect each week going forward. Alabama had been averaging between 90,000 and 100,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna products in recent weeks.
Those eligible to be vaccinated in Alabama are anyone age 65 and over, health care workers, first responders, and several categories of front-line workers.
Alabamians can check their eligibility and see if their local county health office has a vaccination appointment available here.
The portal to book a vaccine appointment at participating Walmarts is available here,
The equivalent program at Sam’s Club stores can be found here.
CVS’s coronavirus vaccine portal, which has several participating stores in Alabama, can be found here.
A complete list of vaccine providers in Alabama can be found at this page, once a user navigates to the “vaccine providers” tab at the bottom.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.