The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced on Feb. 27, 2021 that a new single-dose COVID-19 vaccine will begin being offered in Virginia next week, following federal approval the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It joins Moderna and Pfizer as a third vaccination proven to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from the disease. The Saturday prior, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the new vaccine, allowing it be used in people 18 and older.
Virginia is expected to receive 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state, to be distributed based on the state waiting list (register here). All Prince William Health District vaccinations are provided by appointment only; it will take a couple of months to complete vaccination of the currently eligible priorty groups. It is expected that the federal government will send an additional allotment to pharmacies participating in a federal partnership to help vaccinate priority groups, such as those 65 and older. The Prince William Health District noted that the new vaccine:
- Is highly effective at preventing severe COVID outcomes, including hospitalization and death.
- Is authorized for use in people aged 18 years or older (like the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine). Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in people aged 16 years or older.
- It is easier to store than other vaccines–it does not require ultra-cold temperatures and can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius for up to 3 months.
- It involves a different method than the first two vaccines; one that has been used for many years to develop successful vaccines. The dose delivered is the same as other COVID-19 vaccines.
- The most common side effects among Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 trial participants were injection site pain, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and nausea. Most side effects occurred within 2 days post-vaccination and were mild or moderate.
- Protection from the vaccine begins about 2 weeks after receiving the shot. Like other vaccines, it takes time for the body to develop protection. It is still not known whether vaccinated individuals could carry COVID-19 asymptomatically and infect others, and no vaccine offers 100% protection. It is critical to continue following CDC guidance on mask wearing, distancing and avoiding time in crowded, indoor settings.
- When PWHD will continue to make appointments based on the vaccines on hand, working through the various priorites on its waitlist. Given that the 1A and 1B categories have expanded to include over half of all Virginians, it will likely take into April to fully vaccinate the priority groups. Vaccinations for individuals outside of these groups will likely begin in late spring/early summer and continue into the fall.
For more information about COVID-19 in Virginia, and the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts in the pandemic, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.
Who Should Call the PWHD Call Center and When?
- If you are due or overdue for your second dose of Moderna, you should call the call center as soon as possible to set up your second dose appointment. Please have your waitlist ID number available.
- If it is three days before you should receive your second dose, but you have not been contacted to schedule your appointment, you should call the call center as soon as possible to schedule your second dose appointment.
The PWHD Call Center is open (9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.) seven days a week; call (703) 872-7759 and select option #3
How to Pre-register for Vaccine:
- Virginia residents and workers can sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine through the new Statewide Vaccine Pre-registration System at virginia.gov.
- For those who do not have access to the internet, pre-register for the vaccine by calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. The state’s call center is open seven days a week (8 a.m.– 8 p.m.).
- It may take several weeks before you are called to schedule an appointment. Appointments are scheduled no more than 7 days in advance to ensure supply will be available and to decrease no-shows and cancellations, which are more common with appointments booked further in advance.
- Your registration number does not indicate your place in line. There are too many supply challenges and other variables (to include shifting guidance on priority levels) to accurately gauge when your appointment will take place in advance. Your patience and continued adherence to COVID safety measures is appreciated.