Sitka – On February 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson (Jannsen) vaccine for emergency use in preventing COVID-19 in patients 18 years of age and older. In mid-March, doses became available to the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a proven effectiveness of 72% against contracting COVID-19 and 86% in preventing severe clinical disease associated with COVID-19. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only a single dose. Due to limited supplies, Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be scheduled according to sequencing guidelines, and availability will be limited.
“SEARHC is excited to add another tool to our COVID-19 toolbelt,” said SEARHC Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl. “SEARCH medical leaders want to remind our communities that the best COVID-19 vaccine is the first one available to you.”
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, created with messenger RNA, Johnson & Johnson uses an adenovirus (viral vector) and instructs your body to create the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The patient’s immune system recognizes the foreign proteins and develops antibodies to protect from future SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and cannot give you COVID-19.
SEARHC recommends all patients ages 16-and-older register for a vaccine at covid19.searhc.org. For patients not yet 18-years-old, parental or guardian consent will be required prior to vaccination. Vaccine doses are available with no out-of-pocket costs to the general public in communities throughout the Southeast region and to beneficiaries and existing SEARHC patients in Juneau.
In addition to vaccination, SEARHC medical leaders recommend strict adherence to public health measures to limit the virus’s impact on our region – such as social distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick – even after a patient has been fully vaccinated.
Individuals who have questions regarding the vaccines should contact their local SEARHC clinic. For more information, visit covid19.searhc.org.