Nevada health officials are keeping an eye on the allocation of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine but do not expect it to make a big impact on the state’s vaccination efforts right away.
“We don’t anticipate an increase in the new Janssen product for several weeks so we’re still going to be in this place where we have the Moderna and Pfizer products that will be most available,” state health official Candice McDaniel said Friday.
Because of a lower reported efficacy rate in clinical trials, people had concerns about receiving the Janssen vaccine as compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. According to McDaniel, the recommendation is for people to take the vaccine available to them at the time.
“The guidance that the CDC has also provided is that all three products are incredibly safe and effective,” McDaniel said. “So we promote once an individual is eligible for the vaccine, to be able to receive the vaccination regardless of which product it is as long as it’s available to them.”
McDaniel acknowledged that there might be the opportunity to choose in the future but getting as many people as possible vaccinated is the goal as production of the Janssen vaccine ramps up.
“I think as we move forward and we have an increased allocation of the Janssen product later in the spring there might be more opportunity for choice,” McDaniel said. “But at this point, we very much want to support just getting vaccinated with the products that we have.”
Underlying health conditions
One vulnerable population waiting to get their vaccines in many parts of the state are those with underlying health conditions.
On Wednesday, the Nevada State Immunization Program announced that they are working with the Public Health Preparedness Program and the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Section to identify people with underlying health conditions.
Along with partners across the state, these groups will be responsible for helping vaccines reach those communities.
While concerns have been raised about why people with underlying health conditions have not been included in the vaccination rollout so far, McDaniel said that some people in that group have already been vaccinated and the speed with which those vaccinations happen is based on each county.
“Some of our rural counties have actually reached those individuals with underlying health conditions this week,” McDaniel said. “I just have to support the county-specific rate at which they’re moving through both the occupational groups and those in the general population.”
Health officials were adamant that they are currently following CDC guidelines and will use their recommendations to make decisions on which groups get vaccinated first.
“We value that input and the other stories that are producing or showing that there’s an increased desire for vaccination efforts,” Nevada COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage said. “The best way to approach this is one that is driven by data that is scientific, equitable and ethical.”
COVID-19 in Nevada
Statewide, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to drop as Nevada reported the 14-day moving average has reached 263 daily new cases.
This is the lowest 14-day moving average of daily new cases since the average was 260 on June 19. At its peak on Dec. 11 last year, the 14-day moving average was as high as 2,716 new daily cases.
Coronavirus death toll: Nevada marks more than 5,000 COVID-19 deaths, a day shy of first case anniversary
Confirmed hospitalizations have reached their lowest mark since Oct. 4 with 335 hospitalizations reported on Thursday.
The 14-day moving average for test positivity rate dropped to 6.% on Thursday, its lowest percentage since Oct. 6.
Follow reporter Terell Wilkins on Twitter, @terelljwilkins, call him at 252-367-8463 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.