Prisma Health announced Friday, March 5, it received its first doses of the recently authorized COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson and will use it to deliver vaccines to vulnerable populations in the coming weeks. The announcement comes as South Carolina begins transitioning to Phase 1b in the vaccination distribution plan.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — also known as the Janssen vaccine — on Feb. 27. Patients receive the vaccine in a single dose, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that have been available for months. Those vaccines require two doses spread weeks apart.
Dr. Saria Saccocio, co-chair of Prisma’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said in a news conference South Carolina reached two milestones recently “in the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes.”
Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? You can now chat with Prisma Health to get the answers to them! Text VAXCHAT to 83973 or access here to get started: https://t.co/hi4R55X9DR pic.twitter.com/qWqUOzmssG— Prisma Health (@theprismahealth) March 3, 2021
The first was a one-year anniversary of the first two likely cases of COVID-19 in the state. Saccocio said that since then there have been over 520,000 probable or confirmed cases of the disease and almost 8,700 probable and confirmed deaths since last March.
“We mourn the loss of our loved ones — our friends and our neighbors near and far — to this dreadful disease. Our thoughts are with each of you,” she said.
Saccocio said the second milestone was the reception of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Prisma received 600 doses of the latest vaccine and expects another 600 soon. Those will go to those identified by the health system as most vulnerable.
Of the more than 58,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that Prisma requested, Saccocio said only 18,720 doses arrived. Prisma only uses the Pfzier-BioNTech vaccine at its vaccination sites.
Additionally, Saccocio announced that Prisma will be partnering with several school districts in the state, including several Upstate school districts — Oconee County, Pickens County, Anderson County School District 1 and Laurens County District 55. Prisma will also work with the Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities.
While Saccocio said she’s excited for the amount of people vaccinated so far, more can be done.
Soon, GCS will host employee vaccination clinics and will need to close our school buildings to students. Students will participate in eLearning on those days. We’re asking parents to prepare now for expected eLearning Days over the next several weeks. https://t.co/VewAfsdhXk pic.twitter.com/PaE8lZID6U— Greenville County Schools (@gcschools) March 4, 2021
“I’m still concerned that we have extremely limited vaccine supply, but we will do everything we can do to get those shots in the arms of those who are eligible and who want this very important and lifesaving vaccine,” she said.
For more information about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/janssen.html
For more information about receiving the vaccine from Prisma Health, visit: https://prismahealth.org/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine