Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Updates (March 5): The MHA is aware of ongoing misinformation regarding both the effectiveness of this vaccine and how it was developed (as it relates to use of fetal tissue). We encourage members to push back on misleading information on its communication channels whenever possible, which the MHA will also continue to do, and can provide the following background information and talking points to do so as appropriate:
- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses that are put into arms do not contain fetal cells.
- Fetal cell lines do play a role in the production of some common vaccines. The original fetal cells have multiplied millions of times, creating fetal cell lines. The cells used in the development of vaccines are independent and have been grown in laboratories for decades.
- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works differently than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. This vaccine uses adenovirus (the virus that causes the common cold) to deliver instructions about COVID-19 to your cells through a piece of spike protein. Your immune system then builds antibodies and activates T-cells to destroy it. In the future, your cells remember how to destroy the protein, protecting you from the virus.
- Growing the adenovirus to produce the vaccine requires cells. Scientists use fetal cell lines to grow the adenovirus, but by the time the adenovirus goes in the vial, the cells from the fetal cell lines have been filtered out.
- Pope Francis and the Pope emeritus received the COVID-19 vaccine in January. The Pope referred to the vaccination as “an ethical action, because you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”
- In a December statement, the Vatican says that it's "morally acceptable" to receive a vaccination for COVID-19, even if the vaccine's research or production involved using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses, given the "grave danger" of the pandemic. The Catholic Health Association echoes this position, including specifically supporting the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
As it relates to questions around the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s effectiveness rate, compared with Pfizer and Moderna effectiveness rates:
- The CDC has no preference for any of the three authorized vaccines. All three were proven to be safe and highly effective in preventing COVID-related hospitalization and death in clinical trials. This is the ultimate goal of any vaccine — to prevent serious illness and death.
- The results of the Johnson & Johnson phase III trials are not comparable with those from the Pfizer and Moderna trials. These trials happened in different geographies and at a different calendar time when and where some of the more contagious variants were circulating. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine proved highly effective in a worldwide trial against new, highly contagious variants.
- Individuals should accept whatever vaccine is first available to them as all are equally effective in prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death.
- Providers cannot control which vaccine they receive from federal and state government agencies, and therefore cannot allow individuals to choose which vaccine they receive.
Race and Ethnicity Data Being Added to State Dashboard (Feb. 22): The MDHHS expects the state COVID-19 vaccine dashboard to be updated this week to include race and ethnicity data. The MDHHS has also created an option for those providers who perform direct data entry into the Michigan Care Improvement Registry. Additional information on how providers can directly input race and ethnicity data will be shared by the MDHHS later this week.
State Changes Hospitals’ Share of Vaccines Distributed (Feb. 4): MDHHS confirmed that it will continue the allocation process it implemented the week of Feb. 1, with 60% of the available vaccine going to health departments and 40% to hospitals, until further notice.
Vaccinating Vulnerable Communities (Jan. 20): The MDHHS yesterday, on their biweekly COVID-19 provider call, announced that they are working towards using the CDC Social Vulnerability Index to identify areas and individuals in Michigan that may have less access to COVID-19 vaccine, and will be encouraging vaccinating providers to use this data to find and vaccinate these individuals and communities. The MHA will also provide details on how to reach vulnerable individuals and communities as they become available.
Moving to Vaccination Priority Group 1B (Jan. 6): The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced in a press conference this afternoon that starting Monday, Jan. 11, additional Michiganders can be vaccinated against COVID-19, including residents 65 and over and police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers. In addition, they announced a modified 1B priority group that includes any resident 65 years and older in addition to essential workers. Previously, 1B included individuals 75 and older and essential workers.
Vaccination Priority Group Updates (Jan. 4): MDHHS has updated the language regarding priority groups receiving the vaccine. The current priority groups are as follows:
- 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.
- 1B: Frontline essential workers and individuals 75 years of age and older.
- 1C: Other essential workers, persons 65 to 74 years of age and individuals 16 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions.
- 2: All persons age 16 years or older.
First Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccine (December 20): Pfizer began shipping its COVID-19 vaccine from its global warehouse in Michigan Dec. 14 and continued to deliver it to hospitals across the country throughout the week. Healthcare providers began inoculating staff members soon after the vaccine arrived. The second vaccine was approved for emergency use the evening of Dec. 18, and initial shipments to hospitals began Dec. 20.