COVID-19 Q&A: Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Idaho received 13,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine the week of March 1. We are not expecting additional shipments of the vaccine until late March, based on information from the manufacturer and the federal government. It was approved under Emergency Use Authorization on Feb. 27, 2021. On Feb. 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended use of the vaccine in people 18 years and older.

Adding Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine to our toolbox means more people can get vaccinated, which increases the overall population protected from severe disease, hospitalization, and even death.

Having different types of vaccines available for use, especially ones with different dosing recommendations and storage and handling requirements, can offer more options and flexibility for the public and vaccine providers.

Is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer and Moderna?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose recombinant (combined genetic material) vector (vehicle) vaccine. Recombinant vaccines use one virus to carry a small piece of genetic material from another virus to trigger an immune response in the body. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a modified adenovirus to carry the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) spike protein genetic material. The virus can enter cells but can’t replicate inside them or cause illness. The body’s immune system detects the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and generates antibodies. 

It does not require ultra-cold storage, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do. Storage and handling of this vaccine is similar to many other vaccines. It must be stored at refrigerated temperatures between 36°- 46°F (2°-8°C). It is easy to transport and store and allows for expanded availability in most community settings and mobile sites, as supply scales up.

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A reminder from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration System launched today

Due to overwhelming demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, many Idahoans have been unable to make an appointment to get a vaccination. Overwhelmed phone lines and websites at the public health districts and enrolled provider organizations has been frustrating for Idahoans. They have expressed their frustration on social media, in emails, and in phone calls.

Gov. Brad Little announced today through a press release that the State of Idaho has created a new COVID-19 vaccine appointment pre-registration solution to help alleviate the frustration of many Idahoans in trying to make an appointment to get the vaccine. The new system, called Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration System, makes it easy for Idahoans to put their names on a waiting list.

This system allows Idahoans (and those who work in Idaho) who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to save their names to a statewide list. Vaccine providers can then easily find people who want the vaccine. By adding your name to the list, you are telling vaccine providers that you are interested in receiving the vaccine. You can add your name now, and you will be notified when you are eligible to receive the vaccine and a provider has vaccine available.

The new COVID-19 vaccine appointment pre-registration system is available at https://covidvaccine.idaho.gov/.

The new system is user-friendly. The instructions are in plain language. It was been built from the ground up, specifically for Idahoans.

I want to echo Gov. Little’s words – all Idahoans who choose to get the COVID-19 will be able to do so. It is our top priority.

One quick reminder: if you are in a priority group that is currently receiving the vaccine (e.g. 65 and older), make sure you pre-register through the new system so that an enrolled provider in your area can reach out to you and schedule your vaccine appointment.

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COVID-19 pandemic is causing behavioral health challenges for Idahoans. We can help!

As we near the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in Idaho, it’s important for everyone to know that feeling a little down or unmotivated is not unusual at this point. It’s been a long year, and we still have a ways to go before things get back to normal.

The Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) in the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is continually thinking about how to better serve the evolving needs of mental health providers and the public, especially during this pandemic. DBH created a statewide COVID19 Strike Team in April 2020 that meets a few times a week to address our needs during the growing public and behavioral health emergency related to the pandemic.

DBH has a variety of services to offer Idahoans who might be struggling with the stress of the pandemic.

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An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Working to prevent suicide in Idaho; Requiring proof of residency or work for COVID-19 vaccination

Training 25,000 Idahoans to help prevent suicide

Suicide is a critical public health issue in Idaho. It brings tragic loss to families, friends, schools, and entire communities across the state each year. In 2018, Idaho had the 5th highest suicide rate in the U.S. There were nearly 24 suicides per 100,000 Idahoans. Despite this dark statistic, we can progress toward a brighter future because suicide is preventable.

Everyone in Idaho has an important role to play in changing these statistics. We, at the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), are working toward a future where there are zero suicides in Idaho.

In our work toward this goal, one of our DHW strategic objectives is to reduce Idaho’s suicide rate by 20 percent by 2025. Part of this goal includes helping to deliver suicide awareness and prevention training, alongside our partners, to 25,000 Idahoans between 2018 and June 30, 2021. And we are nearly there. As of Feb. 11, we are 91 percent of the way to this goal; 22,763 Idahoans have participated in the training programs offered through our partnerships.

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COVID-19: New services for Idahoans who want to quit tobacco

All Idahoans who want to quit tobacco products, including cigarettes, chew, and vapes, have access to free programs to help them on their quit journey. In addition to the current programs for adults, youth, pregnant women, and tribal members who have decided it’s time to quit, the Department of Health and Welfare and Project Filter are pleased to provide a free and enhanced tobacco cessation program for adults 18 and older who are living with conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and substance use disorders.

Communities are facing increased mental health challenges during the pandemic, including stress, depression, suicidal ideation, and higher substance use. Quitting tobacco improves mental health and can provide people with the tools to quit other substance addictions as well.

People who report mental health and substance use disorders also have higher rates of tobacco use and lower rates of quitting. In fact, more than one-third of all tobacco used in the United States is consumed by people who also have a behavioral health condition.

More than half of QuitLine callers report at least one condition and nearly 1 in 3 callers report multiple behavioral health conditions that impact their ability to quit tobacco. People with behavioral health conditions may want to quit, but they often need more intensive support to help with stress.

As part of the new program, participants receive:

  • Seven scheduled telephone coaching sessions over three months, focused on coping techniques to manage stress, and development of a personalized quit plan.
  • Specially trained tobacco treatment coaches who understand behavioral health conditions.
  • Nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) for 8 weeks with combinations of patch, gum, or lozenges.
  • A personalized welcome package including educational materials and the My Quit Journey© workbook.
  • A suite of eHealth services to supplement telephone coaching, including customized email and text messages, online chat, and interactive online resources.
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From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Idaho is working on a vaccine pre-registration solution to help match Idahoans with enrolled vaccine providers

We know you are frustrated

When Gov. Brad Little and I answered questions last Tuesday at the AARP Telephone Town-hall, we heard numerous Idahoans express their frustration at being unable to make a vaccine appointment because of overwhelmed phone lines and websites at the local public health districts and enrolled provider organizations.

The biggest issue, as we all are aware, is that the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine is not meeting the demand in Idaho and across the country. The allotment from our federal partners doesn’t meet the needs of Americans at this time. That is a frustration we, and many other states, are feeling. We are working with our federal partners, and we are hopeful this will change over time.

So I want to let you know that I hear you. I understand your frustration. Under Gov. Brad Little’s direction, DHW teams are working on a vaccine pre-registration solution. It will save you time and worry. When it is available, we will let you know through all available channels. Your ability to get a vaccine – should you choose to do so – is our top priority.

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An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Transparency data now available; working to meet the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine

On Monday, Idaho began publishing a vaccine administration transparency data dashboard thanks to Gov. Brad Little’s Executive Order. The new tool shows the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses that individual providers and local public health districts have been distributed and the number of doses that remain for them to administer.

There are two “data dashboards” now – you can find the buttons to both of them on the home page of the coronavirus website. The button that provides enrolled provider vaccine administration data is called Vaccine Administration Transparency Data. The button that outlines data related to Idahoans getting the vaccine is called the COVID-19 Vaccine Data Dashboard.

Some details to keep in mind as you look at the new dashboard:

  • “Distributed doses” include first and second doses. Some doses that appear to have not been administered yet may be scheduled for an appointment or may not be reported in the state’s immunization system yet because providers have 72 hours to report after a dose has been given.
  • The number of doses that remain to be administered could include a share of second doses that arrived early and cannot be administered yet because the second dose must be given at least 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna after the first use.
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DHW offers additional grants to childcare providers affected by COVID-19 to help them stay open

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is accepting new applications from eligible childcare providers until Feb. 19 to receive a grant paid monthly to assist with business expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of up to $15 million in grant awards will be issued through Phase 3 of the Idaho Child Care Grant. This is the third phase in the Idaho Child Care Grant program.

The Idaho Child Care Grant: Phase 3 provides funding to cover expenses authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) for childcare providers who have experienced decreased enrollment or closures related to coronavirus, and to assure they are able to remain open.

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All Idahoans who choose to get the COVID-19 vaccination will be able to do so: A reminder from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

Many of the questions we receive from the public are related to when and where they can get a COVID-19 vaccination. Because of the limited supply of the vaccine at this time, some people have not been able to get an appointment right away. I want to reassure everyone that anyone who wants to get the COVID-19 vaccination will be able to do so. We are committed to this, but it will take time because of the limited supply we are receiving here in Idaho.

Supply and demand

On Monday, Feb. 1, Idahoans 65 and older became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccination, and it quickly became obvious that the demand is far greater than the supply. To put it in perspective, there are roughly 265,000 people in Idaho who are 65 and older, and Idaho is receiving about 25,000 doses a week. It will take several months to get through this group, so we are asking for patience. Everyone who chooses to get the vaccine will be able to do so, but the appointments will be spread out during the coming months.

You can find more information on when and where to get vaccinated on a new page on the DHW website. This page outlines who can get vaccinated (by age and job classification), where to go to find a provider and schedule an appointment (when there are appointments available), and what to expect at your appointment.

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COVID-19 Q&A: Vaccine administered vs. distributed, new online resource, new vaccines, and getting vaccinated after COVID

Q: Where are the COVID-19 vaccine doses Idaho has received but not administered?

A: Vaccine doses are sent directly from the manufacturers to the providers, based on orders they receive from the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW). DHW places orders for the vaccine as soon as they are available based on discussions with the local public health districts. The local public health districts are in contact with vaccine providers in their counties. DHW is not storing any doses or holding any doses back.

If doses that have already been administered are not showing up in Idaho’s Immunization Reminder Information System (IRIS), it could be because there is a slight data lag (providers have 72 hours to submit data about administration of each dose), or because providers have not administered them yet. Staff are also troubleshooting some technical issues we have discovered with IRIS and other data vendors that have caused some data for doses administered to not show up in IRIS. We have hired additional staff to help find those corrupt files and fix them so they show up in IRIS.

Q: Where can I find information to schedule an appointment for get a vaccine?  

A: Idaho launched a new COVID-19 vaccination information web page on Friday to help Idahoans more easily find information on when and where to get vaccinated and what to expect when they get to their appointment. The new web page is https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/covid-19-vaccination. It’s also available by link at coronavirus.idaho.gov.

Local public health districts are responsible for implementing vaccination plans. Enrolled COVID-19 vaccine provider information is available on each public health district website, but the new state web page offers just one place where all Idahoans can find out when they are eligible to receive the vaccine and where to access enrolled COVID-19 vaccine provider organizations in their area.

The state web page also tells Idahoans which priority groups, by occupation and age, are next in line for the vaccine. It will be updated on a regular basis.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Q&A: Vaccine administered vs. distributed, new online resource, new vaccines, and getting vaccinated after COVID”