Despite Alberta’s calls for a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, uptake is slow

In an attempt to raise vaccination rates among holdouts, doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine are now available in several provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

However, the recording of the single-dose option has been slow to begin with.

Earlier this month, Alberta received 5,000 doses of the J&J vaccine. In the first week of the campaign, 1,190 shots were fired in the province.

Part of the problem with admission is probably the time it took to get the vaccine, said Dr. Cheri Nijssen-Jordan, Co-Commander of the Alberta Vaccine Task Force.

After the province implemented evidence of vaccination in many businesses in September, many people who had endured were vaccinated with other vaccines, she said, so they could access services.

“We find that people who want specialized vaccines, specialized treatments can be quite loud … It’s hard to know the numbers that actually underlie it,” she said.

As of Thursday, nearly 83 percent of Albertans 12 years of age or older had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Although Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Canada since March last year for adults 18 years of age or older, no one had been administered in the country due to a quality control issue.

Alberta’s request for the J&J vaccine came in late September, with Prime Minister Jason Kenney saying some unvaccinated residents of rural Alberta asked for the specific brand.

“What we hear is that some of the vaccine-hesitants in these regions are telling us that they are willing to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but are hesitant for one reason or another in terms of mRNA. [vaccines] and AstraZeneca, “Kenney said at the time, asking the federal government for help in obtaining a supply.

The J&J picture is a viral vector vaccine, which may alleviate the concerns of those with unfounded fears of newer mRNA vaccines. It is also a single-dose option and a person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after inoculation.

Dr. Noel Gibney is Professor Emeritus of Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Alberta. (Peter Evans / CBC)

But booster shots for those vaccinated with J&J are still likely – and that may reduce the appeal, said Dr. Noel Gibney, Professor Emeritus of Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Alberta.

At present, Health Canada has only approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for booster shots.

“The value is limited,” Gibney said of the J&J option. “And in the end, you’ll probably have to get either Moderna or Pfizer [vaccine] anyway.”

He said, however, that it is still worth it for someone to be vaccinated with J&J because of the protection it provides against serious illness and hospitalization. According to Health Canada, clinical trials showed that from two weeks after vaccination with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson adenovirus vector vaccine, it was 66 percent effective in protecting participants from COVID-19.

Nijssen-Jordan said it is always difficult to get people in to get boosters of vaccines, but she hopes those who receive the J&J syringe will be more open to the idea.

“Hopefully, [with] the scientific evidence, some people will pay attention and give appropriate advice, “she said.

Danielle Smith told CBC News that she went to Arizona in September to get her single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (CBC)

Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith was among those pushing to bring the J&J vaccine to Alberta. In September, Smith flew to Phoenix, Arizona, to get the one-dose vaccine there, as it was not available in Canada at the time.

“It just seemed to make the most sense for me to get a single shot so I would be able to return to my life very quickly,” she said.

Despite the slow start to the campaign, Alberta Health Services expects all 5,000 doses of the J&J vaccine to be in arms before Christmas.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan received 2,500 doses of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, which it began administering on Wednesday. BC received 5,000 doses where priority in that province went to health professionals who have protested against being vaccinated with the other shots available to date.

Health Canada has also approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged five to 11 years, and doses are expected to begin arriving in the country on Sunday

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