Some Chatham vaccine providers hope to receive J&J doses in April

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As vaccine eligibility widens in North Carolina, some Chatham vaccine providers say they hope to receive the single-shot J&J vaccines as soon as April.

Last Friday, the White House COVID-19 task force announced that Johnson & Johnson was set to ship 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week. The same day, the Raleigh News & Observer reported that the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services expects North Carolina to receive up to 160,000 J&J doses per week in April.

So far, the Chatham County Public Health Department has not been allocated any J&J doses, said Public Health Director Mike Zelek. Previously, the CCPHD announced they wouldn’t likely receive any at all in March.

But that could change soon, Zelek told the News + Record.

“The state is beginning to accept requests, so we’re still learning how that process unfolds,” he said. “I think the allocation is still pretty limited to the state, so not all providers who make requests or who are out there get it. Potentially in April, things could change. We may get some.”

A single-dose vaccine has certain advantages, he said, especially for certain groups of people, like inmates or homebound seniors who are immobile or harder to reach.

“We know there is interest in it, as well,” he added. “... It could come soon, and depending on how large that allocation is, we would be intentional in terms of how we best utilize it.”

Piedmont Health Services’ spokesperson, Debra Markley, told the News + Record that PHS hopes to receive doses of the J&J vaccine in April.

“Piedmont Health is working with our patients to get them vaccinated if they are eligible by asking patients to call the health center where they receive care to get an appointment for vaccination,” she said. “Many of our patients are in Group 3 and 4.”

UNC Health spokesperson Alan Wolf told the News + Record that UNC’s Chatham clinic has not yet received any J&J doses, only Moderna.

“The Chatham vaccine clinic received 200 first doses of Moderna this week, but no J&J yet,” he said. “They also have 800 second doses they are giving this week.”

In early March, UNC Health, along with other large-scale medical providers, received several thousand doses of the J&J vaccine. Only certain UNC locations — such as the Friday Center in Chapel Hill — administered J&J shots, however. UNC Health’s online vaccine scheduler also has a tab that allows people to sign up specifically for a J&J shot when scheduling their vaccinations.

According to Wolf, UNC Health does not yet know when the Chatham clinic will receive J&J doses.

In North Carolina, medical care workers, adults 65 and older, frontline essential workers and people with high-risk medical conditions are eligible to receive COVD-19 vaccines. Other eligible groups include those who live in certain congregate environments, like detention centers. On March 31, eligibility widens to other essential workers who didn’t qualify for Group 3, as well as other groups living in congregate settings, including college students. Everyone 16 years and older will be able to receive a shot in North Carolina starting April 7.

As of March 29, more than 35% of North Carolinians 18 years and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. In Chatham, just over 29% of adults have been partially vaccinated, while one-fifth of all Chatham adults have been fully vaccinated.

Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at victoria@chathamnr.com.

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