As third COVID-19 vaccine clears big hurdle, SE Raleigh ramps up efforts to vaccinate the most vulnerable

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In hard-hit southeast Raleigh Friday evening, COVID-19 vaccinators at Advance Community Health braved the rain to keep the shots going into the arms of residents living in the state's largest COVID hot zone, the 27610 ZIP code.

"Of all the first doses we've given, 55% were from Black and African American population and 22% were from our 27610 ZIP code. And that's what we were challenged with vaccinating," said Michelle Davis, vaccine coordinator at Advance.

At the same time, Friday evening, a panel of FDA advisors, doctors and scientists were voting unanimously to recommend emergency authorization to Johnson and Johnson's one-shot vaccine.

"There is a shortage of vaccines currently authorized. And I think authorization will help meet the needs of the moment," said advisory panel member Dr. Archana Chatterjee in her explanation of her vote to endorse the vaccine.

The J & J vaccine boasts strong protection. It's 85% effective against severe illness, 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. And, may also offer 74% protection against asymptomatic infections -- making those vaccinated less likely to spread the disease.
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U.S. health advisers endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic.

Back at Advance, where vaccinators are currently using doses of the Moderna vaccine, the focus is vaccinating Raleigh's most vulnerable populations: seniors over 65 and, this week, school personnel: teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc..

Over 2,000 doses have been administered here since January, even amidst a battle with vaccine hesitancy.

"People are going to listen to their peers as much as they listen to leaders in the community. So the more people we can get vaccinated and show them that it's safe and effective, the more I think the word will spread," Davis said.

Formal FDA authorization of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine could come as soon as Saturday.

CLICK HERE to register for a vaccination appointment at Advance Community Health.
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