The state of Delaware will distribute 5,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s new one-shot vaccine this weekend, and health officials are asking residents to take whatever vaccine they’re given the opportunity to take.
State officials said that 8,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived Tuesday. They were were told it’s the only J&J vaccine it will get this month. However, the state expects to receive a bigger shipment in April, because Merck Inc. will be producing the new vaccine under a deal brokered by the federal government.
The government and medical community want as many people vaccinated as possible as soon as possible to open the economy, but also to avoid another surge caused by different strains of the virus now circulating in the U.S.
“I for one like the idea of a one-dose vaccine,” Governor Carney said during his weekly COVID-19 press briefing. “I would be pleased lead the way, if need be, to show my fellow Delawareans that this is a good way to go.”
The arrival of the J&J vaccine comes as Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, warned that the decrease in new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations because of it seem to be plateauing.
The weekend events using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be given out at state-sponsored appointment-only events, one Saturday at Seaford High School and one Sunday at the Delaware City DMV.
Invitations to sign up will be sent through email to individuals on the state’s waitingn list of those 65 years old or older.
The state is setting aside 3,500 doses of the other two vaccines to be used at Curative testing sites, also to be used by appointment for those on the state’s waiting list.
So far, 58,000 or about 45% of the individuals on that waiting list have received at least one dose of vaccine. Thousands have received both doses needed to complete the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Carney and Rattay were not able to answer how much longer it would be for the state to begin to vaccine individuals outside of the current criteria.
“Age is so incredibly important as a risk factor,” Rattay said. “We want to make sure our seniors who want to get vaccinated have the opportunity to get vaccinated.”
While some question whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s effectiveness compared to Pfizer and Moderna, Rattay said that they all 100% effective in preventing death and hospitalization and similarly effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19.
Eligible Delawareans should take what they can get, Rattay said several times during the press conference.
“Our message to the public, our position as an agency and my recommendation as a doctor is for eligible individuals to get vaccinated with the first vaccine available to them,” Rattay said. “When you get that first available opportunity please take advantage of it, regardless of the vaccine type.”
She also stressed the fact that none of the three vaccines can possibly give someone the virus itself.