Boston Herald

J&J vax Hits Hub arms

- BY ALEXI COHAN, LISA KASHINSKY AND NANCY LANE

And then there were three. Health care workers at Tufts Medical Center administer­ed the first Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses Thursday, less than a week after it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administra­tion.

“I’m grateful that I was able to access the vaccine and I hope others will not be so afraid of taking the vaccine,” said Mary Chin, CEO of the Asian American Civic Associatio­n, who was the first to get the J&J shot at Tufts on Thursday morning.

Chin said, “All of us must get vaccinated, then from there we will, as a group, all be fighting against the same thing.”

Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center each received 2,000 Johnson & Johnson doses earlier this week, marking the first shipments to land in the Bay State.

Diana Richardson, chief operating officer at Tufts, said all 2,000 doses will be administer­ed by the end of the day on Tuesday. She said when the hospital was notified of the allocation, there was “a loud hooray!”

Tufts patient and South End resident Hector Rosario was also among the first to get a J&J shot on Thursday.

Rosario is on dialysis and already had coronaviru­s once. He is allergic to an ingredient in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, so the new Johnson & Johnson shot was his saving grace.

“I was very relieved, like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Rosario told the Herald.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine operates on a cold virus vector platform that differs from Moderna’s and Pfizer’s two-dose mRNA platform.

But all three vaccine options have been proven safe and effective, according to public health experts and rigorous FDA standards.

“We have three safe and effective vaccines at our disposal today and we didn’t expect that even a few months ago so it’s really a blessing,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, chief of infectious diseases at Tufts.

Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, Tufts associate hospital epidemiolo­gist, said, “SARS-CoV-2 is not going to disappear, it will stay with us probably for a long time, but we want to convert it into a common cold,” and the best way to do that is by vaccinatio­n.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine offers unique benefits not provided by the current vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer. It only requires a single dose and doesn’t need ultra-cold storage.

Officials across the state have celebrated the arrival of a third tool in beating back the pandemic.

Sean O’Brien, Barnstable County Department of Health and the Environmen­t director, said his team is “ecstatic about the potentials” of the one-shot vaccine.

“It really allows us to get everything done in one clinic,” O’Brien told reporters Thursday. “It’s going to allow us to really spread out the vaccines across the population in a much faster way.”

State Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, also addressed hesitancy about the J&J vaccine, saying, “When I’m eligible for vaccinatio­n, this is the vaccine I want in my arm. There should be no hesitation to receive this vaccine.”

 ?? NAncy lAnE / hErAld stAFF ?? ‘WEIGHT LIFTED’: Tufts Medical Center RN Gina Arie Giarusso gives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Hector Rosario in Boston on Thursday.
NAncy lAnE / hErAld stAFF ‘WEIGHT LIFTED’: Tufts Medical Center RN Gina Arie Giarusso gives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Hector Rosario in Boston on Thursday.

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