HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — The head of the Orange County Health Care Agency is hoping Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine would get approved soon.
As OCHCA continues to roll out its vaccine distribution to seniors 65 and older and healthcare workers at the county's Super Point-of-Dispensing (PODs) sites, some advocacy groups have criticized the agency for not inoculating the county's most vulnerable residents.
For one reason or another, many homebound individuals and disabled people are unable to visit the county's Super PODs at Disneyland Resort and Soka University or other vaccine clinics, essentially shutting them out from getting inoculated.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the director of OCHCA, said Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine could be the solution to help many of these homebound seniors, disabled people, and the homeless and incarcerated. Many of these groups have a hard time visiting a site once, let alone twice.
"That [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] would be the most convenient vaccine when we need to bring vaccines to an individual's home," Dr. Chau said during a town hall hosted by Huntington Beach mayor Kim Carr on Wednesday night. "This vaccine would afford us to outreach to individuals who are vulnerable and in an unpredictable environment such as individuals that are homeless, [and] individuals that are incarcerated."
Chau said it is very difficult for a county health care worker to transport any of the two current vaccines to a homebound senior at that person's home because of how fragile and delicate the vaccines are. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require to be held in a cold storage unit. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine must be stored in a minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, and minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit freezer, respectively.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in a 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit refrigerator.
On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson submitted an application for emergency use authorization for its single-dose vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration.
Chau said if Johnson & Johnson receives clearance from the FDA, the county could receive the new vaccines in about ten days and immediately begin distributing them.
"We will then vaccinate those vulnerable populations, who are currently eligible, but the site of the vaccination has been a barrier for them to come to," Chau said. "That would be the population that I'll be focusing on."