First shipment of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine coming to SC this week

Zak Koeske
·2 min read

South Carolina will receive its first shipment of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control is activating vaccine providers to help distribute the additional doses, state health officials said.

Roughly 41,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine, are slated for the Palmetto State this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greenlighted its emergency use over the weekend, DHEC spokeswoman Laura Renwick said Monday.

The influx of vaccine doses will increase South Carolina’s weekly allotment nearly 40% and bring the combined number of doses flowing into the state this week to more than 147,000.

Unlike Pfizer and Moderna that require a two-dose regimen, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine involves just a single shot.

The J&J vaccine is 85% effective in preventing severe disease and, as of 28 days following vaccination, has demonstrated complete protection against coronavirus hospitalization and death in clinical trials involving more than 45,000 people, DHEC said.

It can be stored for at least three months at between 36 and 46 degrees, is equally effective in whites, Blacks and Latinos, and has shown high levels of protection against severe disease and death in all study sites, including South Africa, where a more highly transmissible variant of the virus is predominant.

“We believe this new vaccine will help speed up vaccination efforts across the state because it’s a single-dose shot and also can be stored easily, at refrigerated temperatures, for several months,” said Linda Bell, the state’s top epidemiologist. “The Janssen vaccine will be key to our ongoing plans to bring vaccines out into our communities.”

DHEC is still developing a distribution plan for the new doses, but said it hopes to provide South Carolinians with as much vaccine choice as possible.

“It won’t be able to be everywhere right away,” Nick Davidson, DHEC senior deputy for public health, said Friday. “But it is definitely our plan to try to spread it in a diffuse manner so that it can be an option for as many people as possible.”

To date, South Carolina has received more than 1. 2 million combined doses of COVID-19 vaccine and administered nearly 930,000 first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Reporter Emily Bohatch contributed to this report.