ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)– The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for a third brand of COVID-19 vaccine, the Janssen vaccine. The vaccine is also referred to as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Officials with South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control said the state is receiving its first allocation this week, which is roughly 41,000 doses. However, who will get it first and how many will be sent to the Upstate, is still unknown.
“We don’t know if or when, but I would imagine with this pandemic and the increase in the vaccination distribution, all the way down to the local level with the county level, that’s certainly within the realm of possibility,” Anderson County Emergency Management Director David Baker said.
Baker and Bon Secours Health System said they’re unable to confirm if they will receive the vaccine or how many they receive. Both said that is up to S.C. DHEC. Prisma Health said it looks forward to distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, once it receives DHEC approval.
“Prisma Health is working with the S.C. Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC), to get shots in arms. Currently, Prisma Health only receives the Pfizer vaccine from DHEC, but looks forward to being able to also vaccinate community members with the Moderna vaccine and just approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine once Prisma Health receives DHEC approval,” said Sandy Dees, Prisma Health Spokesperson.
Anderson County officials said due to supply and demand, they will take what they can get, and they suggest that everyone else does the same.
“Do your independent research, but I would suggest not waiting on an independent brand. I would suggest waiting for the opportunity when your phase comes available, that you take advantage of whatever vaccine is available. That’s how you protect yourself, that’s how you protect your loved ones and our community,” Baker said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot, unlike Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two.
“We believe this new vaccine will help speed up vaccination efforts across the state because it’s a single-dose shot and also can be stored easily, at refrigerated temperatures, for several months,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “The Janssen vaccine will be key to our ongoing plans to bring vaccines out into our communities.”
“Yeah logistically, you could think the one shot might be kind of the better deal, but then you look at the effectiveness. The effectiveness of Moderna and the Pfizer are in the mid 90’s. I think Pfizer is the predominant…around the 95 percentile. Moderna is around 94,” Baker said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to what’s available. The supply and demand, it’s not just Anderson County trying to get our hands on vaccines, it’s every county in our state. It’s every state in the United States, and it’s every country that’s competing with the United States for these vaccines,” Baker said.
The Janssen vaccine:
- is a single-dose vaccine. It doesn’t require two shots like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
- is 85 percent effective overall in preventing severe disease and demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death as of day 28 following vaccination
- can be stored for at least three months at 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit
- is equally effective in whites, blacks and Latinx persons
- does not contain the live virus. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine
- has high protection against severe disease and death seen in all study sites, including South Africa where the B.1.351 variant is dominant
Some residents are up in the air about their options.
“I don’t like needles, at all. I don’t like shots and I don’t like giving blood, because of the needle. So if I could get just one needle, I probably would, but if the opportunity arose for me to get a vaccine and it was only offered in the two, I would probably go with the two,” said Steitler Buisch, a resident.
“We just want to remind people that it is going to be a slow process, and it was put out there very early on, that this would not be a quick process and for people to be patient,” Baker said.
Right now, AnMed Health and Prisma Health are only receiving Pfizer vaccines, but Anderson County said that could change for them, very soon.
“Could it happen that we would have one or two at the same time, or potentially all three, certainly,” Baker said.
Dees said Prisma Health has six vaccination sites and just launched a mobile-unit initiative, which will take vaccines directly into vulnerable or rural communities. For real-time information on its vaccination sites, including whether they’re accepting walk-ins– visit, www.PrismaHealth.org/Vaccine or call 1-833-2PRISMA.
DHEC said it is onboarding additional providers to help distribute the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across the state. DHEC officials said they will have additional information about the new vaccine in the coming days.