‘Game Changer’ J&J Vaccine Gains FDA Approval, Vineland One of Selected Cities to Address Equitable Vaccine Access

By the time you read this, the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine could already be in the hands of vaccination sites in our region. This follows the much-anticipated approval for emergency use, which the Food and Drug Administration granted late Friday, February 26.

In his news briefing earlier that day, Gov. Phil Murphy expressed his optimism for a third vaccine to fight the coronavirus that has ravaged New Jersey and the world over the past year.

“Quite simply, an approval of the Johnson & Johnson application would be a game changer,” Murphy said. “First off, simply having a third tool in our toolbox is critical. An additional 70,000 doses in one week means another 70,000 vaccinated New Jerseyans. And this, remember, is a vaccination that would require only one dose, regular refrigeration, no follow-up necessary.”

Murphy continued the discussion by outlining the state’s plan for equitable distribution of vaccines.

“I would put our efforts up against any other American state in terms of ensuring equitable access to the vaccines,” he stated. “We have worked with our federally qualified health centers to undertake vaccinations right in the community clinics that many residents already rely upon and trust.”

It was a reference to news earlier last week that New Jersey aims to partner with federal, state, county and local organizations in several cities with large communities of color, to open vaccination centers for underserved residents where they live. One of those cities is Vineland.

Other cities from north to south, are Paterson, Newark, Orange, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Camden, and Pleasantville. The Paterson site is opening this week with Camden and Jersey City slated for next week.

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli said, “The community-based vaccination partnership … will vaccinate 15,000 individuals throughout March. These cities are strategically selected, as they have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and are among the most diverse or challenged, socioeconomically challenged communities in our state…. Each site will vaccinate approximately 1,500 people per week over a two-week period…. The sites are supported through a partnership of the Department of Health, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the US Department of Defense, in addition to the local faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, local officials, and health departments. This initiative is part of our efforts to expand access to the vaccine to those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

Persichilli concluded: “As part of our vulnerable populations vaccination plan, community health workers will work in partnership with community centers, senior centers and churches to address concerns about vaccine safety and help people schedule vaccine appointments. We expect the opportunity for everyone to get vaccinated to increase as the vaccine manufacturers have committed to increasing production of these doses.”

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