Hundreds get J&J vaccine on Good Friday; communities brace for possible delay in new shipments

Johnson & Johnson update
A nurse administers the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans on Good Friday.
A nurse administers the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans on Good Friday. (Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Musicians played on neutral ground as a line of hundreds of people wrapped around the block outside the Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. The main attraction was the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, and the public response was healthy for the single-dose shot.

Meanwhile, some communities are bracing for possible delays in future shipments of the vaccine in the short term due to a development at a Maryland factory.

Inside the Ashe’ Center shots of the J&J vaccine went into arms in mere seconds and recipients expressed satisfaction.

Cedric Smith was glad he got the shot after being prodded by family members.

“I am relieved to get this done, one and done, that’s the only thing I like about Johnson & Johnson come once it’s done, and don’t have to come back,” said Smith.

Edwin Creighton said he was happy to be vaccinated.

“Just trying to be safe that’s all,” said Creighton.

New Orleans East Hospital partnered with Ashe’ to bring the event to the community around the Ashe’ Center.

Dr. Takeisha Davis is CEO of New Orleans East Hospital. She was asked about the large turnout by people wanting to get the shot.

“I think the one dose and I’m done but also that we were coming into the community with a trusted partner who was saying that they were going to open up their home to all of our community members to get vaccinated, to demonstrate with them visibly that this is a safe and effective vaccine, and this is the way that we will get back to the New Orleans we all know and love,” Dr. Davis said.

Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes is CEO of the Ashe’ Center and was eager to host the vaccination event.

“With COVID being so much on us we knew that we had to get in the front of things to be a helping hand and support whatever we knew our trusted medical professionals,” she said.

Still, communities around the country are wondering how fast they will receive future shipments of the J&J vaccine in the short term because of what happened at a factory in Maryland.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno is Director of the New Orleans Health Department.

“I think everybody saw that the Johnson and Johnson factory in Baltimore which was preparing 15 million doses for shipment in the next couple of weeks, that is now on pause of some irregularities,” said Avegno.

Earlier this week Johnson & Johnson said a batch of its vaccine failed quality standards at a Baltimore factory which is one of 10 companies Johnson & Johnson is using to speed up manufacturing of its vaccine.

“We do know that the Johnson & Johnson allocation coming to the state for next week is coming and we know that Region 1 will get several thousand doses, we are putting in orders for further Johnson & Johnson and we’ll try to get as much as we can but we do, what we’re being told and again this is very limited information is that there may be another few weeks where Johnson & Johnson is not being shipped,” said Avegno.

Still, Avegno stressed that the J&J shots that have and are going into arms remain safe.

“It has nothing to do with the safety of the vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is incredibly safe and incredibly effective, this was something that occurred in the factory to the doses that were there,” she said.

FOX 8 reached out to Johnson & Johnson about whether shipments could be delayed to communities because of the factory issue but no one responded to us from the company.

And efforts to get more people vaccinated come as variants of the coronavirus are causing spikes in new COVID-19 cases in other parts of the country.

“We are in the race of our lives right now to successfully reach immunity before the virus takes hold yet again as you’re watching it do in other places across the country,” Avegno stated.

People who received the vaccine at the Ashe’ Center also received free fish plates.

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