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Single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine available in Sask. beginning Wednesday

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WATCH: The Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday that a supply of the one-dose J&J COVID-19 shot will be administered through multiple SHA clinics on a first-come, first-serve basis – Nov 16, 2021

A limited supply of Johnson & Johnson‘s single-dose Janssen  COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to eligible Saskatchewan residents starting this Wednesday.

The Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday that an initial supply of 2,500 doses will be administered through multiple Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) clinics on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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The vaccine is available to residents 18 years of age and older.

“Due to the limited number of doses received and potential demand, these doses will be available on a walk-in basis at (select) locations only,” noted the government in its announcement on Tuesday. “Janssen appointments cannot be booked online through the Patient Booking System.”

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Clinics are planned for Regina, Saskatoon, Estevan, Prince Albert, Melfort, Swift Current, North Battleford and Lloydminster. Residents are encouraged to check SHA clinic location information online for up-to-date locations, dates and times before travelling.

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The SHA clinics will be set up to permit walk-ins to be screened to receive the Janssen vaccine upon request. The government notes that inclement weather may delay vaccine deliveries.

In a technical briefing on Tuesday Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, said the Saskatchewan government acquired the vaccine because residents had asked health-care workers for it.

“This vaccine was obtained with the expectation that a few people who remain unvaccinated will opt for this single-dose (vaccine) if they still haven’t come forward to get the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccine,” he said.

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An infectious disease researcher told Global News the extra option, even this late into the pandemic, is a positive thing.

“We have to look at this a little bit more from a broad perspective,” said Jason Kindrachuk, a University of Winnipeg professor and Canada Research Chair, when asked if vaccine hesitant people will change their mind for this shot.

“If it pulls in a couple of… people to get vaccinated – while it may not completely suffice for everybody, that’s been reluctant – we will get additional protection.”

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A person who has received a Janssen shot can get their proof of vaccination14 days following their immunization. Residents can download and present their MySaskHealthRecord QR code or wallet card along with required identification.

Health officials say the Janssen vaccine is not available as a booster or third dose, but recipients of Janssen are eligible for a booster shot two months following their immunization. Either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will be available to them.

“Approved by Health Canada, it is safe to mix vaccine types and has shown to improve overall immune response to COVID-19,” stated the government in its announcement.

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Case rates have fallen and vaccine rates have increased in the province recently. Shahab touted these successes and urged residents to keep following health guidelines.

“You have to stay the course for the next four to six weeks,” he said.

“That makes it easier for us to have, you know, and safe holiday season.”

But the public health orders could expire in two weeks, at the end of November.

A government spokesperson told reporters they couldn’t yet say if the orders will be extended.

Kindrachuk said he thinks the guidelines should stay in place.

“The Prairies have seen what can happen if you open up everything,” he told Global News, pointing out the health-care system is still very busy even if it is no longer overcrowded.

“You may have started to see at least some plateauing of those effects, but it’s going to take a long time to recuperate and additional cases are going to really equate to additional hospitalizations.

About the Janssen vaccine

The provincial government has provided more information on Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine ahead of its availability in the province.

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The Janssen vaccine is a single dose, viral vector COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada by Health Canada. The recipient of Janssen vaccines are considered “fully vaccinated” 14 days after receiving their single dose. This is the time required for the body to develop the protective immune response.

A viral vector vaccine uses a piece of a modified virus to generate an immune response but note that it is not the virus that causes COVID-19. In the clinical trials, the Janssen vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did contract COVID-19. The potential side effects from receiving this vaccine are similar to all COVID-19 vaccines.

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