‘Game changer’: Triad health director says new vaccines can help expand access to underserved communities

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Randolph County’s Public Health Director said Monday she believes thousands of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine coming to North Carolina can help expand access in rural and underserved communities.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday the state will receive more than 80,000 doses of the newly authorized vaccine.

“Johnson & Johnson I think is a game changer,” said Susan Hayes, who leads the RCPHD.

Hayes said the county does not yet know how many doses of the one-dose vaccine they will receive.

“In the future, we really want to get able to go out to those communities and provide vaccine where they are rather than then come to us,” she said.

Hayes explained that following March 10, she hopes to be able to organize community vaccine events in communities with limited access to transportation and healthcare.

“It would make more sense to us that Johnson & Johnson would be one of those vaccines that we can take out into the community. It would be much more manageable than trying to take vaccines that have to be kept ultra cold,” she said.

Despite slightly lower levels of reported efficacy, Hayes encouraged people to sign up for vaccine appointments when available.

“Trials for Johnson & Johnson were done at a time when virus levels in the community were much higher than virus levels when we were doing trials for Pfizer and Moderna,” she said. “Anybody who can get any vaccine whether it’s Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer should take it advantage of it”

A spokesperson for Davidson County Public Health said Monday the department requested 300 doses of Johnson & Johnson, but it is unclear if they will receive it.

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