At the beginning of March, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to boost production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it received emergency use authorization from the FDA. This prompted the administration to announce the U.S. will produce enough vaccines for every adult by the end of May.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed using a viral vector technique, the same as the AstraZeneca / Oxford strategy. In contrast to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine gives patients immunity after a single dose and needs traditional refrigeration — simplifying the supply chain process.
COVID-19 VARIANTS AND VACCINES
Medical experts are increasingly concerned by new, more contagious, coronavirus variants spreading quickly around the world. Scientists are closely watching the variants which emerged in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, as well as two additional variants that appeared in the U.S.
All three companies with approved vaccines have approaches to deal with the variants. These include booster shots of the existing vaccine, variant-specific booster shots and a multivalent booster.
The American Rescue Plan, passed by the Senate over the weekend, will be voted on by the House later this week. The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan allocates money for vaccines, schools, small businesses and child tax credits.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance this week for those who have been vaccinated. The agency warns that everyone should continue to follow recommended guidelines in public settings, which includes wearing masks.
At this time, the CDC has not updated its travel guidance. In January CDC announced that all travelers entering the U.S. would be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. Additionally, the CDC will require passengers two years and older to wear masks on all airplanes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-share vehicles.
CDC’s updated guidance allows up to six weeks for individuals to receive their second vaccine dose. This expands the timeframe for states struggling to schedule the booster shot.
Texas has distributed more than 7.3 million doses but only 8.4% of the population is fully vaccinated. The state is currently vaccinating its 1A and 1B groups, which includes 10-13 million people. The state could expand the pool to include essential workers as early as this week. Those in the 1C include transportation and food service workers, information technology, energy, law, media or public safety employees.
Some vaccination sites are already offering vaccinations to group 1C. We encourage you to notify your workforce they may be able to register for appointments because they work in the energy industry.
Governor Greg Abbott removed all restrictions for businesses in the state and rescinded the state-wide mask mandate, effective March 10.
Houston was the first city to report all three of the major COVID-19 variations.
New Mexico’s Education Department announced this week that schools can fully reopen by April 5 with remote options available for families who need it. Additionally, all K-12 educators and staff will be eligible to receive the vaccine in phases over the next three weeks.
Beginning this week, Oklahomans in Phase 3 of the state’s plan can sign up for a vaccine. Critical infrastructure personnel are included in Phase 3 and will include an estimated 2.5 million residents.
Oklahoma has fully vaccinated 11% of its population with 1.3 million doses administered. As of Sunday, the state had not reported any new deaths for three days in a row. Gov. Kevin Stitt never issued a state-wide mask mandate and eased restrictions in the summer of 2020.
Starting March 5, Colorado allowed adults aged 50-64 and people with two or more chronic health conditions to be vaccinated. This stage includes about 1 million people.
The state has administered more than 1.63 million vaccine doses and fully vaccinated almost 10% of its population. Gove. Jared Polis extended a mask mandate for an additional 30 days beginning this week.
As of this week, Louisiana has provided 1.28 million doses and has fully vaccinated almost 10% of the population. Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded vaccine access to adults of all ages who are at higher risk for severe illness from coronavirus. He also moved the state to Phase 3 of reopening, which removes some restrictions for businesses. The state will continue to require people to wear masks in public.