RRH COVID-19 VACCINE ADVISORY & RESPONSE: VACCINATION UPDATE (3.5.21):

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) can confirm that the hospital will receive a shipment next week containing both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) / Janssen vaccine.

On February 27, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the FDA. Shortly after on March 1, essential workers with jobs in education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture became eligible across the state to receive their first vaccine shots.

"The developments this past week have brought so much good news and hope that we are able to continue moving in the right direction in being able to protect our community," said Michelle Whalley, RRH Clinic Administrator and Vaccine Taskforce Leader. "Although vaccine availability remains limited, the introduction of the Janssen vaccine into the market will aid supply at a time when demand is still high. This is exciting progress."

Despite clinical trials for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine showing a lower effectiveness than the already available Pfizer and Moderna, all three vaccines have been proven to be exceptionally effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms. In clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was found to be 72% effective in the U.S (and 66% overall) at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 illness and 85% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness, 28 days after vaccination. It was 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths related to COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses what’s known as “viral vector” technology. This means a harmless cold virus is engineered to contain the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 “spike” protein. Once someone gets this shot, their body mounts an immune response and produces antibodies that prevent them from a future severe COVID-19 infection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not need to be transported frozen like the two currently authorized vaccines. This means it will be easier to store and distribute to smaller offices and outlying areas. For more information on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/janssen/index.html.

Whalley continued, "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is delivered in a single dose, which means we can vaccinate more people in a shorter timeframe and will be able to greatly reduce the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. We urge the community to take whichever vaccine becomes available to them, as soon as possible."

As stated in an earlier release, RRH will not be accepting new additions to the vaccine waitlist, as the hospital transitions to using MyTurn for online appointment booking. Those on the RRH waitlist prior to 2/19/21 will remain on the waitlist and will receive a call to schedule their appointment, as vaccine becomes available for them. To register and check vaccine eligibility visit https://myturn.ca.gov/.