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Coronavirus

Johnson & Johnson vaccine could help with homebound, homeless and other hard-to-reach groups

Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine
Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

On Sunday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services authorized the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine within the state. Officials say about 50,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Missouri this week.

The third approved vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't have to be stored in extreme cold, making it easier to distribute to areas of the state without hospitals that have such storage.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose and can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures compared to extremely cold refrigeration temperatures required for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccine also require two doses.

The less stringent measures could make it easier for people who are homebound or that live in more rural areas of the state to get the coronavirus vaccine.

"It's simpler because you don't have to get entire vaccine crews out twice to a rural area or the homeless population where you can't be sure somebody will be available to come back in three or four weeks," said Dr. Robin Blount, chief medical officer of Boone Hospital Center. "A single dose may really be ideal for the homebound populations and for home health nurses to reach people ... not having to find these people three or four weeks later."

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services is gathering information on homebound individuals who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine and plans to vaccinate these individuals when doses become available.

Homebound people include:

  • Those who need the help of another individual or medical supplies including crutches, a walker or a wheelchair.
  • If a doctor thinks the patient leaving their home would make their health worse
  • If it is too difficult to leave one's home without help

People who wish to be put on this list can call 573-874-2489. The health department will contact them when doses are available.

Those who have already signed up for the MU Health Care/health department vaccine survey list and wish to be put on the homebound list should also call the number.

Missouri is vaccinating individuals in Phase 1B, Tier 2 and above but will be moving to Tier 3, which includes teachers and grocery store workers, on March 15.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was found to be 66% effective against preventing symptomatic illness due to COVID-19. Both the Pfizer and Modera coronavirus vaccines were about 95% effective in trials.

But health officials say it is important to receive any vaccine offered given the high demand and relative lack of supply.

"I'd say get the vaccine that's available to you," Blount said. "If people are turning down a vaccine because they want a different brand, they may not get that different brand and then they're not vaccinated ... it's very imperative people take advantage of getting the vaccine available to them."

Blount said if people are given the option of getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, they should take it.

"There's nothing second class about it," Blount said. "It's protecting us from severe disease."

In a Sunday news release, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said getting a vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19.

"The best COVID-19 vaccine you can get is the one you are able to get the soonest after becoming eligible,” said Williams. “The scientific evidence shows that the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine does a great job at preventing hospitalizations and deaths which is the main goal for COVID-19 vaccines.”

Missouri residents are able to sign up on the state's vaccine navigator to be notified of when they qualify for the vaccine and when appointments become available in their area.

The Northeast Missouri Area Agency is working with RSVP and is offering appointment assistance, reminders, and transportation to and from vaccination appointments for seniors in Randolph County. People are able to call 660-665-8314 to get this help.

According to the Missouri state dashboard, 1,287,676 total first and second doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been given out to residents as of Monday. The dashboard says 13.8% of the state population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 7.1% of the population has received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Check back for more on this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.

Boone / Columbia / News / Top Stories / Video
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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.

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