Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrives in NC Wednesday, how it will affect local supply unknown

N.C. will receive more than 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, according to public health. (Port City Daily/File)

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced it will receive more than 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) Covid-19 vaccine this week. Some will arrive as early as Wednesday, Mar. 3.

How much New Hanover County will get is still unknown.

“We have not received notice from the state about if we are receiving the J&J vaccine this week,” county spokesperson Jessica Loeper said. “So we don’t have any information to share on it yet.”


Reports have indicated it could boost vaccine supply by 25%.

“We hope that this will increase the overall supply of vaccine coming to New Hanover County,” Loeper added.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Saturday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on its distribution on Sunday. Around 4 million doses are in transit to states across the nation, with 16 million being rolled into the supply chain by the end of March, and 100 million by the end of June 2021.

In the U.S. the one-shot dose has a 72% efficacy rate against severe Covid-19 symptoms. It’s 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and even death. Worldwide, the vaccine is 85% efficacious against the spread of Covid-19.

“A third COVID-19 vaccine means North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner, which will save lives and slow the spread,” NCDHHS secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a statement.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require ultra cold storage like the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which must be put in freezers set to minus 20-70 degrees Celsius, depending on the vaccine. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will be stable for three months in refrigeration set to 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and up to two years if stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

It’s shipped in the same manner as treatments for cancer, immunological disorders and other medicines, according to the company. Because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be easier to ship and store, it increases the possibility for communities to host more vaccination sites since doses are more accessible. 

According to Loeper, the vaccine will be stored in refrigerators at public health on Greenfield Street.

With three vaccines now available, health officials have been encouraging those who want a vaccine to take whichever is offered. Loeper confirmed the county doesn’t allow “vaccine-shopping options” so folks can’t request which they prefer.

“We will share what vaccine we are dosing,” she said, “and individuals can decide whether to receive the vaccine.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested on 45,000 people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and its trials have proven it’s safe. It goes into full effect 28 days after being administered. Some side effects have included fever, headache, a sore arm, and aches and pains that could last up to two days.

NCDHHS reminds that “all of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized were built upon decades of previous work on similar vaccines.”

The state also encourages everyone to continue wearing masks, washing their hands and waiting 6 feet apart to keep down viral spread. Those measures, along with 2.3 million doses given in N.C. to date, have helped the percentage positivity come down to 5.4%, according to state officials.


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