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Ten thousand doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in Mecklenburg County this week, county health officials said Monday.

That’s a big chunk of the 80,000 doses initially allocated to the entire state.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday gave emergency approval for health officials to begin administering the vaccine nationwide. It will join two other Covid-19 vaccines already in circulation — one by Pfizer-BioNTech and another by Moderna.

Why it matters: More available doses will mean more people getting vaccinated faster, state and local health officials said. And because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires no refrigeration, it will be easier to store and distribute.

Also, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two shots, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one.

‘Extremely effective’

In a statement Monday, Mecklenburg Public Health called the Johnson  & Johnson vaccine “extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina Health Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen released a statement that said that the new vaccine will “save lives and slow the spread” of Covid-19.

“This increased supply will help to ensure the equitable distribution and access to COVID-19 vaccines in every community in the state,” her Health and Human Services department said in the statement. 

Still, some worry that the new vaccine, because it’s easier to store, will be sent to hard-to-reach communities, creating a perception of a two-tiered system, riven along race and class lines.

In addition, in clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was less effective in some cases.

The lower effective rate should not deter people from taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, urging Americans to take whichever shot is available when they are eligible.

“All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Know the facts

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved for people age 18 and older.

On Monday, Mecklenburg Public Health released the following guideline:

  • Vaccine Safety – The J&J COVID-19 vaccine was tested in large clinical trials to make sure it meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus.
  • Who Should Get the Vaccine – The J&J COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in individuals 18 and older. The FDA and CDC are advising that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines and those who have compromised immune systems should discuss the benefits and risks of taking the vaccine with their medical provider before receiving it.
  • Vaccine Side Effects – The J&J COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus. The potential side effects from the vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who receive the flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects.
  • Vaccine Dosage – The J&J vaccine requires only one shot. (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses spaced three or four weeks a part to be effective.)
  • Vaccine Cost – The J&J COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone who is eligible at no cost to the person receiving the vaccine, no matter whether you have health insurance.

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.

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