How Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine Could Reduce Equity Gaps

The three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States will help save lives and reduce hospitalizations. But Johnson & Johnson’s newly licensed vaccine has some key benefits that experts say could help make the vaccination campaign more equitable.

Unlike the first two vaccines, produced by Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in the refrigerator and only one injection is taken to protect people from COVID-19. It could be sent to community clinics, which are equipped to reach people in rural areas or who do not have regular contact with the health system. Because it only takes one dose, it could help vaccinate people who might be difficult to reach twice, such as the homeless. Officials could also easily take it to people in jails and prisons. All of those groups are also at high risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

“This vaccine could facilitate access to some disproportionately affected groups,” said Sarah Oliver, an epidemic intelligence officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a vaccine advisory committee meeting this weekend. of week. The committee’s COVID-19 vaccine working group considered that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will improve vaccine equity in the US So far, Black and Hispanic people in many states have been vaccinated at low rates, and the communities hardest hit by the pandemic have been the slowest to get vaccinated.

Mass vaccination sites have the facilities and staff to handle Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines, which must be stored in freezers and require two doses. These massive sites can receive thousands of gun doses every day, but they can be inaccessible to people who do not have a car or easy transportation. The site in East Hartford, Connecticut, for example, is not accessible by city bus. So far, 82 percent of the people who get vaccinated there are white. Only about 30 percent of the people who live in East Hartford and Hartford are white.

Those sites are also not designed to reach or connect with people who may be reluctant to get vaccinated. “They are not there to advise you,” said Marcus Plescia, medical director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, in an interview with The New York Times. “You’re going to get the photo, end of story.”

Some states are already planning to use some of their doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to reach the groups that are more difficult to vaccinate. Washington State He said CNBC You could use it to vaccinate people who work in the fishing industry, who live in shared housing on boats. New York City plans to use it to vaccinate homebound seniors. “We will have nurses and other medical professionals go apartment by apartment to those who cannot even leave their apartment and make sure they are safe,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a news conference this month.

Doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be limited to start. Just under 4 million doses will be shipped to the states this week and none will be shipped next week. The company says it will have a total of 20 million doses available by the end of March.

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