LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Ochsner Health hosted a virtual media briefing Monday to discuss plans for what’s next now that the FDA has approved emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the first doses have begun to ship.
Ochsner Health professionals say they will continue with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations as they receive them and as they wait on Johnson & Johnson’s shipment for distribution.
“If we do get J&J allocation, we will obviously add it quickly to the schedule of new locations to administer that also,” Ochsner’s System Centers of Excellence and Service Lines CEO Dawn Pevey said.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, like the other COVID vaccines, Johnson & Johnson is 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.
“If we receive notice of shipment tomorrow, which means we probably won’t get it until Wednesday, we can start vaccinating on Thursday,” Pevey said.
LDH says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is more durable.
“It’s stable up to three months refrigerated and stable up to two years if it’s frozen at minus 20 degrees celsius,” System Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention Dr. Katherine Baumgarten added.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also manufactured differently. Moderna and Pfizer use Messenger RNA to create spike proteins that the body becomes immune to. While Johnson & Johnson uses an noninfective adenovirus (cold virus) to deliver COVID-19 DNA into the body to create the immune response.
Ochsner’s System Medical Director of Hospital Quality, Dr. Sandra Kemmerly says it’s important to remember that all the vaccines are safe, extremely effective and they prevent death from COVID.
LDH says Louisiana has lost 9,608 residents to COVID.
“Where there are nuances between the vaccines, it’s our recommendation that everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated with the vaccine that becomes available to you; and not necessarily try to select one over the other because vaccination is the key not necessarily at this point which preparation that you get,” Dr. Kemmerly added.
Data will still determine how transmission will work once vaccinated. The vaccines will prevent severe symptoms and death, but more studies are needed to show if it prevents someone from spreading COVID-19. However conventional theory suggests it will.
“At the end of day, at least in March 2021, these three vaccines are effective against preventing death so while people may have mild, to moderate disease, the incidence of hospitalizations and fatalities are markedly diminished with any of these vaccinations,” Dr. Kemmerly said.