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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC Expects 80,000 Doses Of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine This Week

John Foster, of Huntersville, gives a thumbs-up as he receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination clinic held at Bank of America Stadium on Feb. 26, 2021.
Emily Barnes
Atrium Health
John Foster, of Huntersville, gives a thumbs-up as he receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination clinic held at Bank of America Stadium on Feb. 26, 2021.

Updated Mon., March 1 at 1:41 pm.

North Carolina will start receiving doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release on Monday that roughly 80,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine are expected to arrive beginning on Wednesday. About 10,000 of those will be allocated to Mecklenburg County, according to a county press release.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine became the third COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. to be authorized for emergency use on Saturday when it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, one day after a panel of advisers to the federal agency voted unanimously in its favor. Unlike the first two authorized COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which require two doses to be effective, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just a single shot. It also does not need to be shipped or stored at extremely cold temperatures.

“A third COVID-19 vaccine means North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner, which will save lives and slow the spread,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, head of NCDHHS, said in a press release.

The department said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be “more easily shipped, stored and administered” — factors that it said will help to increase the number of vaccination sites in the state and make them more accessible.

"I think just overall, we're excited about the idea of more vaccine," Dr. Meg Sullivan, Mecklenburg County's Medical Director, said during a press conference on Thursday.

Sullivan said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could give the county health department the opportunity to "partner with some of our enrolled providers or vaccinators in the community that might not be able to store the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine."

North Carolina had administered more than 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Feb. 25, according to state numbers — or 90% of the doses it’s received from the federal government. Delays in vaccine shipments because of bad weather drastically reduced the number of doses administered during the week of Feb. 22.

Mecklenburg County Public Health had administered about 39,800 vaccine doses as of Feb. 25, according to county data.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested in an international study of about 40,000 people, NPR reported, half of whom got the vaccine and half of whom got a placebo. The study found the company's vaccine to be 66% effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 disease. For disease judged severe or critical, the effectiveness was 85%. The study was conducted in the U.S., South America and South Africa.

The main study included in the company's application found that 28 days or more after immunization, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine prevented hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19.

The overall efficacy figures are lower than Pfizer's 95% in preventing COVID-19 disease and 94% for Moderna. But direct comparisons are challenging because of differences in the clinical trials and emergence of new strains of the coronavirus.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.