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Avula: Mass Vaccination Events Featuring Johnson & Johnson Vaccine to Begin Friday

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AP Photo / Jessica Hill
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Another COVID-19 vaccine will very soon be available to Virginians. The state will begin receiving shipments of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine no later than Thursday.

Dr. Danny Avula, who is spearheading the state’s vaccination efforts, says reports about the shot’s efficacy have been somewhat misleading. The J & J vaccine was tested on multiple continents and had to deal with new variants of the virus.

“Without a doubt that probably impacted the efficacy rate for mild to moderate numbers, which worldwide were about 66%. When you look at the U.S. data, that’s 72%,” he explains.

He says the most important things to remember about the new vaccine are its nearly perfect rate at preventing hospitalization or death and the fact that it’s easier to distribute and administer.

Avula adds there will be a lull for a few weeks after the initial shipment, but then he expects Virginia’s weekly allotment to significantly increase. Shipments of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are also increasing.

“Up until this point, this has been all about constrained supply and how do we make sure that it gets to the right places and focuses on the right populations," Avula says. "And while we absolutely need to still prioritize the most vulnerable, we are quickly moving to a scenario where supply is going to be here in a really significant way.”

The state’s initial allotment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will begin to go out during mass vaccination events across the state set to begin Friday.

Cases, Hospitalizations Declining in New River Valley

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have continued to decline in the New River Health District over the past week.

The district’s director, Dr. Noelle Bissell, said Wednesday that university-related cases have also started to decline after a spring-term spike.  And she noted a big drop in active outbreaks.  "Currently we have no outbreaks in our long term care facilities and that’s obviously due to our targeted vaccination efforts," Bissell said.

Bissell said an influx of 5,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine, as well as increasing supplies from other manufacturers, should soon allow the district to offer vaccination to all of its remaining residents who are over the age of 65.