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First doses of J & J COVID-19 vaccine to be administered today

By Jeri Chadwell

The first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by the company’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals brand, arrived in Washoe County on Tuesday. Community Health Alliance (CHA) will be the first provider to administer the vaccine starting today.

Approximately 3,600 doses were delivered to the Washoe County Health District (WCHD), and 700 of them were transferred to CHA, which will begin vaccination efforts for patients and non-patients 65 and older starting at 1:30 p.m. at its Wells Avenue Health Center.

Reno City Council member and CHA CEO Oscar Delgado said the organization was “blessed” to be able to offer the vaccine.

“This is a big step in meeting the growing vaccination demands in our community,” he said.

CHA’s top priority will be to ensure that underserved and at-risk populations are given access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The organization will continue working with the health district to get the shot to individuals who live in the zip codes of 89502 and 89431 where its clinics are based.

“We are thankful to have Community Health Alliance to provide health care and to help vaccinate vulnerable populations in Washoe County,” said Kevin Dick, district health officer for Washoe County. “They are a great resource for our community, and we should all support their efforts.”

Many people have questioned whether they should wait to receive a specific vaccine. Three are approved: Pfizer, Moderna and J & J. Both CHA and the WCHD urge people not to wait for a specific vaccine.

J & J’s lower efficacy as well as the use of fetal tissue in its development has resulted in hesitancy to accept it among people who are seeking vaccination. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. By contrast, J & J’s vaccine is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe illness and 85% effective against severe disease.

However, it’s 100% effective at preventing death—in trials anyway, as no one who has received it has died from COVID-19. Vaccine experts say that’s the measure people should be prioritizing.

“When given the opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine…don’t wait for a specific type,” said Jennifer Wheeler, chief pharmacy officer at CHA. All of them are “effective at preventing serious disease and death, and are key solutions to ending the pandemic,” she added.

Patients and non-patients 65 and older can book their COVID-19 vaccine appointments through CHA’s website or by calling (775) 336-3035.

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