Health leaders preparing to distribute newly-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine

Everyone left in the 65 and older population in the Roanoke Valley should be contacted within the next two weeks

ROANOKE, Va. – There are continuing signs of hope across the nation as a third COVID-19 vaccine is getting ready for rollout.

“The more vaccines we have, the better,” said Dr. Christopher Lewis, vice president of medical affairs at Centra Health.

Local health leaders are preparing as Virginia is expected to receive 69,000 doses of the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine this week.

Centra Health is still waiting on direction from the Virginia Department of Health.

Meanwhile, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are set to receive 8,000 doses, allowing them to move through priority groups faster.

“It is critically important that anyone who is in Phase 1a, Phase 1b and Phase 1c pre-register so that we can know about you and about you to access these opportunities to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the director of both health districts.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a bit different from the other options on the market, leading to different opinions.

Some who weren’t interested before are now on board with the single-dose shot, while others are concerned over its slightly-lower efficacy.

“I think all of them are very worthy vaccines and if you can get one of the three, I highly encourage you to get whatever you can,” Lewis said.

Morrow said they’ll let patients know which shot they’re getting when they’re making an appointment. “If you get offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and you prefer to wait, we won’t kick you off the list that’s for sure,” Morrow said.

“Each step gets us closer to being able to vaccinate everybody and getting us completely safe from COVID,” Lewis said.

Morrow said they should be contacting everyone left in the 65 and older population within the next two weeks.

Click here to pre-register for a vaccine.

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