By Clint Thompson
The resumption of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine is a key development for agricultural workers to stay healthy during COVID-19. During a time of the season when workers’ availability is needed the most, the convenience of being able to take just one shot cannot be understated.
“There’s certainly a convenience in getting the one shot. I think it just depends on personal preference, what somebody wanted to do,” said Allison Crittenden, director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “I think the effectiveness for Moderna and Pfizer is slightly increased compared to Johnson & Johnson. But certainly, the convenience of only going through the process one time is a plus there.”
Moderna and Pfizer each require two shots with time in between.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was temporarily paused following reports of adverse reactions in some recipients, specifically with blood clots. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration recommended on April 23 that the vaccine resume.
It’s important for farmworkers who relocate periodically throughout the season, whether it be in-state or from state to state. Crittenden estimates that about 5% of all shots administered so far have been with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
She also wants growers and farmworkers to be aware of the vaccinefinder.org website. It shows available sites to where those interested can receive the vaccine.
“We certainly know that there is ample supply now of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While it is challenging for farm workers to get their first shot in one state and then travel to another state, there are resources like vaccinefinder.org that try to eliminate some of the challenges in figuring out where to get that second shot,” Crittenden said.
“So now that vaccine eligibility has opened up to just about any adult in this country, certainly farmworkers fall into that category. We’re glad to see that vaccine supply is ramping up. That need for prioritization is less of a concern now that we have a more robust vaccine supply,” Crittenden said. “As far as farmers and farmworkers getting their vaccines, we’ve heard really great stories from some of our members where they’ve hosted clinics on their farms, where they could bring in health officials and have their farmworkers vaccinated all at the same time and minimize any of the challenges of having to drive to a doctor’s office or a vaccine site. That’s something that’s worked really well for folks.”
Crittenden said about 90% of all Americans live within five miles of a vaccine site.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction. Certainly, the Johnson & Johnson pause was a bit of a hiccup. We recognize that probably did not help those who have vaccine hesitancy,” Crittenden said. “But I think (since it’s) come available again, that shows people that health officials are taking this seriously. They’ve reviewed all the data and they feel fine that it’s a beneficial thing for people to pursue and get their COVID-19 vaccine.”