First Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses administered in Lewis & Clark County

Johnson and Johnson vaccine distributed in Helena
Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine distributed in Helena
Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 13:06:17-05

HELENA — Lewis & Clark County hosted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Monday with the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Healthcare professionals administered 500 doses of the single-dose vaccine, which staff say is beneficial since those vaccinated won’t need to come back like those that received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“It’s great to have a third vaccine available,” said Clinic Medical Monitor and retired Infectious Disease Specialist Don Skillman, MD. “It’s one more option that we can give people and this one is a one shot and done. We know that two weeks after this they’re quite well protected from the coronavirus.”

Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine distributed in Helena

Although the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has shown a lower efficacy rate than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for patients developing any COVID symptoms, data from the Food and Drug Administration showed the single-dose vaccine completely prevented hospitalizations and death after 28 days. Health care workers say that outcome is the ultimate goal of getting people vaccinated.

Those getting vaccinated on Monday were enthusiastic to get the single-dose vaccine and what the shot means after a year living in the pandemic.

”I’m very excited because after two weeks I can go see my sister and my mom and my dad and I'm very excited because I haven’t got to see them for a while,” said Sherryl Martin. "I think we still need to be cautious but it will open up more opportunities for us."

Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine distributed in Helena

Penny Cloninger was the first in line getting there just before noon. She specifically sought out the Johnson and Johnson vaccine due to having cancer treatments in the past.

“I love the people that have been taking care of people [at the vaccination clinic],” said Cloninger.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their first set of guidelines for individuals that have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine distributed in Helena

All three vaccines available in the United States require a few weeks before the body has built up sufficient immunity to COVID-19.

CDC guidelines state anyone that is two weeks past receiving their final COVID-19 vaccine dose can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. They’re also able to visit with unvaccinated people from a single household indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing if that household is at low risk for severe COVID complications.

Fully vaccinated individuals can refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if they’re asymptomatic.

The guidelines state that vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask while in public, maintain physical distance when possible, avoid unnecessary travel and get tested if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.