RICHMOND, Va. -- Health officials said Virginia will begin dispensing Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine next week following the FDA's emergency use authorization Saturday of the one-shot inoculation.
Officials with the Virginia Department of Health said the 69,000 doses of the J&J vaccine the Commonwealth is slated to receive will be "prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state."
"An additional allotment is expected to be sent to pharmacies participating in a federal partnership to help vaccinate priority groups, such as those 65 and older, at no cost," officials said.
The health department urged providers who schedule vaccine appointments to make sure people know which vaccine they will receive since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine differs from the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines, which both require two doses.
"All three vaccines have been proven to be effective at preventing COVID-19-related hospitalization and death," officials noted.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets FDA green light, 4 million doses expected to be shipped this week
The FDA gave an emergency use authorization of J&J's one-shot vaccine marks the third coronavirus shot allowed to be administered to Americans.
Johnson and Johnson said that it expects to have 4 million doses of the vaccine ready for shipment this week.
“The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for COVID-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic, which has claimed over half a million lives in the United States,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “The FDA, through our open and transparent scientific review process, has now authorized three COVID-19 vaccines with the urgency called for during this pandemic, using the agency’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.”
Initial results released by Johnson & Johnson earlier this month indicated that the vaccine reduced severe instances of the disease by 85 percent, and no person who took the vaccine died as a result.
The findings also found that the vaccine was 66 percent effective in completely preventing the disease. The two vaccines that have been approved for emergency use both showed to be more than 90% effective in preventing all cases of the disease.
Johnson & Johnson has committed to delivering 20 million doses to the federal government by the end of March.
As of Saturday, more than 72 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines have been administered. Twenty-three million Americans have been full vaccinated while an additional 25 million Americans are awaiting the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.