Louisiana distributing Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘upon request’ after CDC change

J&J vaccine has always been less popular than others in Louisiana

By: - December 23, 2021 10:10 am
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Louisiana will continue to distribute the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, though the Centers for Disease Control announced last week that Americans should receive Pfizer or Moderna shots over J&J if possible. 

The J&J vaccine can cause rare, but serious, blood clots and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to be more effective, according to federal officials, though the CDC stopped short of saying the J&J shot should be pulled as a vaccine option.

“I would not recommend the [J&J] vaccine to my family members” but some patients may — and should be able to — choose that shot, said CDC adviser Dr. Beth Bell, according to the Associated Press.

Louisiana still stocks the J&J coronavirus vaccines to administer “upon request,” said Kevin Litten, spokesman for the state health department. 

“It’s been particularly useful in certain situations — especially for workers who are in the state for a short time, such as those who work aboard ships,” Litten said. 

The J&J shot also does not require special cold-storage facilities needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, making it easier to carry for medical providers that aren’t hospitals or large pharmacies.

Louisiana has seen very few negative reactions to any vaccine, including Johnson & Johnson’s. There have been no deaths linked to any of the COVID-19 vaccines in Louisiana and a total of 13 “severe adverse events” out of about 4.7 million shots administered, Litten said. 

Still, the J&J vaccine has never been particularly popular. Louisiana has given the J&J shot to approximately 169,000 people, just 7.3 percent of the 2.3 million people considered fully vaccinated in the state. Federal health officials are also encouraging J&J recipients to choose a Pfizer or Moderna shot as their booster. 

A “mix and match” regiment of any combination — which includes receiving a booster that is different from one’s previous vaccine doses — has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration since October. More than 70% of people in the United States who got a booster after the J&J shot received either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, according to the CDC. 

A Bloomberg Law article reported that the National Institutes of Health expects to have data available next week on how much protection a Pfizer or Moderna booster after an initial J&J shot offers against the omicron variant. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine may also be useful as health care officials push more Americans to get booster shots

A small study released on Sunday also found that a “mix and match” regiment that includes a J&J booster might provide longer-lasting immunity than three shots of Pfizer. Researchers in Boston studied 65 people who received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine and found that those who received a J&J booster had twice the number of COVID-fighting T-cells than those who got a Pfizer booster, according to a New York Times article.


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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots to 1997 when, at age 13, he built a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. Since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune and worked on staff at WAFB/CBS, the Sun Herald and the Enterprise-Journal, winning awards from the SPJ, Associated Press, Mississippi Press Association and McClatchy. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Muller is a New Orleans native, Jesuit High School alumnus, University of New Orleans alumnus and a U.S. Army veteran and former paratrooper. He lives in Southeast Louisiana with his two sons and wife.