Iowa to dedicate Johnson & Johnson vaccine to frontline workers who work and live in congregated settings

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine shipped countywide Monday, and the Iowa Department of Public Health already has a plan to dedicate those doses specifically to frontline workers who work and they live in congregated settings where they are unable to socially distance themselves.

In a call with health directors across the state, IDPH said it will dedicate more than 25,000 doses of the vaccine, which was cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend, to those front-line workers. that they cannot socially distance themselves. like meat packers. But critics of the decision said those with the least health equity in Iowa will now receive a possibly less effective dose of the vaccine.

While Johnson & Johnson’s version, like the others, prevents hospitalizations and deaths, in trials it was not as strong against moderate disease. However, the vaccine was tested against variants of COVID-19. The Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines were not tested against variants.

Joe Henry, political director for the League of United American Citizens in Iowa, said he was concerned that those workers, who are more likely to be people of color, are getting a vaccine that doesn’t protect as well.

“When other essential workers are getting the other two previous vaccines that were out there with the highest effectiveness rate and then Johnson & Johnson is giving people of color and those of us in the Latino community,” Henry said. “That would be unfair”

Herny also called the policy racist because first responders and healthcare workers will still receive the other two versions of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said it is dedicating the doses to this group because the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine allows greater access for this population because it only needs one dose. Sarah Ekstrand, a spokeswoman for IDPH, said it also allows them to address other barriers like language and transportation.

“Due to the less cumbersome storage logistics and the fact that J&J only requires one dose, this ensures greater access for this population to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ekstrand said. “Additionally, by offering the vaccine to this priority population in their workplace, we are addressing barriers to language and transportation access, as well as addressing the fact that many of these individuals may not have a primary care provider.”

Ekstrand also said the department believes that anyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine should now do so, regardless of brand. All are very effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was shown to prevent hospitalization and death 100% of the time in clinical trials and was 85% effective in preventing serious illness caused by the virus. Flu vaccines, for example, generally have an efficacy rate of around 60% year-over-year, but they remain a critical tool in stopping the spread of those viruses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Sunday that he would take a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He added that all three are very effective vaccines.

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