covid-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin in Dallas Friday

Answers to the most common questions about the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

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Dallas County began administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines Friday at the FEMA site at Fair Park.

North Texas received 12,000 doses of the new vaccine, 6,000 were to go to each of the FEMA vaccine sites in Dallas County and Tarrant County.

Initially, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said they would begin to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday, but on Wednesday morning NBC 5 learned that had been pushed back to Friday.

The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will make it possible for thousands of people to get fully vaccinated quickly. Dallas County received 6,000 doses this week and is expecting 6,000 more next week.

Friday, Norma Lopez got the Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot at Fair Park.

She's a school secretary in Mesquite ISD, and said she registered Thursday and received her confirmation a few hours later.

"I'm very relieved because I have something that's going to make me not so susceptible to getting COVID-19," Lopez said

Dallas County began administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines Friday at the FEMA location at Fair Park. NBC 5’s Ben Russell reports from the vaccine mega site.

"We've been doing about 1,100 vaccinations an hour, so that's incredible," said Christian Grisales with Dallas County Health and Human Services

Working mom of three Ashley Ramirez said she was hopeful she could get the shot for the convenience factor.

“Quite frankly, the thought of doing two vaccines and schedule out in multiple different times just sounds like extra work,” Ramirez said.

Teacher Ahmad Khadra said he didn't like the idea of having to take off work twice if he’s assigned a two-dose vaccine, plus, he admitted he’s not a huge fan of needles.

“I don’t like needles and shots so taking one is better than two,” Khadra laughed.

The introduction of a third vaccine on the market is a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 and for Baylor Scott & White which conducted clinical trials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in North Texas.

“I’m really looking forward to having as much of the community vaccinated as possible so we can put COVID-19 in the past,” said Dr. Robert Gottlieb, principal investigator of the trial at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute.  

“This a workhorse type of vaccine," Gottlieb said. "That makes it good for rural areas and good for other areas of the world. Not every part of the world can receive a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine with the intense cold storage chain of custody that’s necessary.”

Yet, he said their critical research on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is not over.

“We still have additional questions to ask,” Gottlieb said. “We’d like to do even better.”

This comes as counties across Texas work to figure out how to get thousands of teachers, school district staff and child care workers vaccinated now that they have been added to the eligibility list.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the county does not currently have enough vaccine supply or guidance from the state to start vaccinating educators just yet. Jenkins hopes to get more information next week and will lean on help from the federal partnership at Fair Park for now.

NBC 5 viewers have questions about the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, too.

We took some of the most common questions from viewers to Dr. David Winter at Baylor Scott & White Health.

Is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as effective as the others?

“They haven’t been compared side-to-side so we really can’t answer that question,” Winter said. “I tell my patients – get whichever one is available. All of these vaccines are very effective. They work very well. They all work better than the flu vaccine.”

Winter said most importantly all three vaccines are equally effective at preventing hospitalizations and death.

Are there any medical reasons why the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be better for some people?

“We don’t know the answer to that at all, all three vaccines are good and the side effect profile is very minimal with all three,” Winter said.

However, Winter said you should check with your physician if you have concerns.

“Patients that have auto-immune diseases or immuno-compromised they ought to talk to their physician to see if they ought to get one vaccine or another or maybe no vaccine at all,” Winter said.

Can I chose which brand of shot I receive?

“People are already shopping around just to get a vaccine. And what I’m telling folks – that’s fine to do that but take whatever one you can get,” Winter said. “We can’t prove that anyone is better than the others so any vaccine for COVID-19 is a great vaccine.”

A spokesperson for Dallas County Health and Human Services said people will not have a choice which shot they receive at the Fair Park FEMA site.

The Arlington FEMA site has not decided who will receive the shot first or where it will be administered.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said 200,000 more Johnson & Johnson vaccines will arrive in Texas next week.

So if you’re looking specifically for the Johnson & Johnson shot, health leaders say you may have to wait until it’s more widely available at pharmacies and physician offices.

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