HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – With its single-dose shot, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine offered hope to many medical workers rolling up their sleeve at a clinic over the weekend, which was coordinated by Riverside Health System and the Virginia Department of Health.
Riverside’s Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer Cindy Williams said all 600 doses were administered in a matter of hours.
“There were even some individuals that had been waiting for the J&J vaccine to come out,” she said. “It’s a very effective vaccine. I would ask individuals to keep an open mind, not consider it to be a second-class vaccine, because there’s some real value in having a vaccine that is a single dose.”
Virginia’s Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula told News 3 Johnson & Johnson doses will continue rolling out to mass vaccination sites this week, adding the state is still deciding which population will get the one-shot vaccine when more comes in.
“We received 69,000 J&J this past week to our state allocation and another 21,000 through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership,” Avula said. “We will analyze uptake across different demographics and determine what other scenarios we could/should use it in. Anecdotally, so far, there has been tremendous uptake across all ages and races who have been eligible.”
Riverside was among the select few to receive some of the first doses of the J&J shot, but now it’s left in limbo.
“We’re still waiting to understand what that supply may look like as we move forward with Johnson & Johnson and whether we will get a routine amount of that, or will we continue to get the Pfizer vaccine predominantly,” Williams said. “We haven’t heard what the overall plan is going to be from state level related how they anticipate use of this vaccine.”
Meantime, Riverside said it will continue to partner with community organizations, such as An Achievable Dream Academy and churches to set up clinics in underserved communities.
“It’s a blessing to bring things like this of this nature to the community,” said a community member at Riverside’s mass clinic event at An Achievable Dream in Newport News. “Giving people an opportunity to get this vitally important shot that’s needed, I’m just proud to be in that number.”
Dr. Avula said the state is expecting another J&J shipment next Monday, March 15, but there is no word yet on the number of doses.
Meantime, Williams is reminding people that the three vaccines on the market are not 100 percent effective, saying now is not the time to let your guard down with safety guidelines.
“There is still a chance that you could contract COVID; there is a chance that you could still carry COVID and infect others,” said Williams. “Until we reach a point where the majority of the population has been vaccinated, we still need to make sure that we’re wearing a mask, social distancing, washing our hands like we’ve been since the beginning of the pandemic.”