Third vaccine comes to the High Country after FDA approval


Jesse Barber

Melinda Bogardus, a family nurse practitioner, administers the Moderna vaccine to a patient in the parking lot of AppHealthCare.

Jackie Park, Reporter

AppHealthCare will receive 3,000  doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

“We do not know exactly when this shipment will arrive but we anticipate it will come to us later this week,” Melissa Bracey, director of communications and compliance for AppHealthCare, wrote in an email. “We will have until March 14 to administer these vaccines and then get the data into the state vaccine system.”

Bracey says that in distributing J&J’s vaccine, also called the Janssen vaccine, 2,000 will go to Watauga County, 700 doses will go to Ashe County, and 300 will be distributed to Alleghany County.

AppHealthCare isn’t sure when the doses will arrive, but the health department is expecting them in the High Country this week. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that the J&J vaccine would begin arriving in the state Wednesday.

This new vaccine is considered a game changer for vaccines because it does not require extra-cold storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and only requires one shot, not two.


Bracey wrote that the department is unsure which vaccine clinics they will offer the Johnson & Johnson dose at and how much of it they will receive in the future. However, AppHealthCare will continue receiving steady doses of the Moderna vaccine.

The new vaccine is just as safe as the two currently on the market, Bracey said. The vaccine’s effectiveness stands at about 66% at preventing moderate to severe disease, which is markedly lower than Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at 95%  and 94%, respectively. However, Bracey noted, no one died in the J&J trials, meaning it is highly effective at preventing serious illness and death caused by COVID-19.

“With three approved COVID-19 vaccines available, it is important to note that each vaccine is safe and effective and has been studied in clinical trials,” stated Jennifer Greene, health director for AppHealthCare. “We have full confidence in these vaccines and hope people will take the vaccine that is offered to them when it’s their turn. The news of a third vaccine that is a single dose provides a lot of hope, and we are very glad to have more vaccines to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

North Carolina is currently vaccinating Group 3 in its vaccination plan, which includes frontline essential workers like grocery store employees and university faculty and staff. The university will host its first vaccination clinic March 11.