The one-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will be available in Riverside County on a limited scale Wednesday, with countywide access by the end of the week, health officials told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
“We just received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and we will begin administering it,” Riverside University Health System Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board. “We will start with a mobile vaccination clinic, and by the end of the week, all vaccination sites will have it.”
The J&J vaccine, which was given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late February, is a single-dose immunization therapy, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two shots over a three- to six-week span for completion.
The Pfizer and Moderna shots have been available in the county since mid-December.
According to RUHS, the county has received 16,400 vials of the J&J vaccine, with 11,000 of those doses being distributed to public health clinics and the balance to private providers.
County Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the board there are now 13 mass vaccination sites countywide, supplemented by five mobile clinics that primarily target clients who might have difficulty reaching the fixed locations, including elderly and economically disadvantaged residents.
Saruwatari said that, to date, about 15% of the county’s population has received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, while 6.5% have received the second dose.
Supply constraints have been an ongoing issue, particularly with residents procuring their second dose, and Supervisor Kevin Jeffries underscored that on a personal level, saying he had encountered several neighbors who were unable to get their shots from county-run sites, prompting them to visit clinics run by Costco.
“I never heard of that — Costco? I didn’t know they were doing that,” he said. “That’s how bad it’s getting. But my neighbors reached the end of their rope waiting for the county to come through. So whatever we thought was fixed is not fixed.”
Leung acknowledged that residents may need additional assistance arranging for clinic visitations, and he said that staffing in the county’s 211 call center has been increased to deal with greater demand.
He said the online appointment portal remains available for residents who want to reserve a shot date via the internet, and those who are due for a second vaxx dose should receive email reminders after they’ve entered the system.
The website is www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine.
According to Saruwatari, in addition to county-operated vaxx sites, there are just over 100 private providers administering shots.