Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced a new program to improve Covid-19 vaccine access for our city’s most vulnerable population.
Dallas County Health Services (DCHHS) is partnering with the Office of Emergency Management to offer the Covid-19 vaccine to homebound residents who are unable to get to a vaccine site physically.
Many older adults and people with disabilities face challenges finding access to Covid-19 vaccination. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends state and local agencies work together to ensure equitable vaccine access.
Dallas County is setting the bar high.
Judge Clay Jenkins reports DCHHS will work with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department to directly bring the Janssen/Johnson and Johnson vaccine to people’s homes. Cedar Hill Fire Department, located in the southwest corner of Dallas County, was the first to party with the health department to help homebound seniors.
Dallas county will work with The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), a local nonprofit community-based health care entity offering homebound care through Meals on Wheels to local seniors since 1934.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine under emergency use authorization (EUA) on February 27. Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies is the vaccine arm of Johnson & Johnson.
The Janssen vaccine is now approved for use in people 18 years and older. It only requires a single dose to be effective and is not burdened by the cold storage requirements, which slowed the distribution of the two previously approved vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. This vaccine can be mass-produced and widely distributed to help get more shots in more arms as fast as possible.
Like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Jansen vaccine does not contain a live virus. One cannot catch Covid-19 from these vaccines.
The Janssen vaccine uses much older technology by altering a common adenovirus to be used as a delivery system. Adenoviruses are the group of viruses causing the common cold. These viruses can be genetically altered to maintain their efficient ability to get into our bodies but remove their ability to make us sick. This combination makes them excellent vectors to create vaccines.
The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies proprietary vaccine technology platform, called AdVac, successfully created the Ebola vaccine currently used in the Congo and Rwanda. The AdVac system is being used to develop vaccine candidates against HIV, RSV, and Zika.
The Janssen vaccine uses Adenovirus 26 (AD26) as the vector to deliver DNA material into our cells to provoke an immune response. Scientists modify the adenovirus by removing its nucleus. They replace the nucleus with genetic instructions to recreate the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
Our bodies then produce the spike protein triggering our immune system to produce protective antibodies without causing us to get sick. Forty-four thousand people participated in Janssen’s safety and efficacy clinical trials in the United States, South Africa, and Latin America. The data shows the Janssen vaccine is 72% effective and offered 86% protection against severe disease. Some may be alarmed by the lower efficacy rate of 72% compared to the 95% efficacy offered by Pfizer and Moderna. It is important to remember these numbers are not direct head-to-head comparisons. Scientists performed the clinical trials for each vaccine in different parts of the world at various pandemic stages.
To date, Dallas County has issued 282,330 doses of the Covid-19 vaccines. Twenty-nine thousand seventy-three have gone to residents over 75 years old. People 85 and older are at the highest risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.
This joint effort by the Dallas public service departments will help save the lives of our city’s senior and most vulnerable population.