Public Health Nurse Andrea Hooper discards the needle after administering the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to Denny Thomas at the United Methodist Church in Kenai, Alaska on Monday, April 12, 2021. Public Health teamed up with the church to offer vaccines during its weekly food distribution event.

United Methodist Church hosts vaccine pop-up clinic during food pickup

After a federal pause of Johnson Johnson vaccine rollout, the clinic will host a Moderna clinic next week.

The Kenai United Methodist Church on Monday, in an event hosted by the church and the Kenai Public Health Center, offered single-dose COVID-19 vaccines during its weekly food bag distribution.

Amanda McKinley and Andrea Hooper, both public health nurses with the state, set up the vaccine clinic in the basement of the church.

When people came for their regularly scheduled food packages, volunteers asked them if they wanted the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Shirley Woolley, the food pantry chair of the church, said they hoped to vaccinate people who may otherwise lack access to a vaccine clinic, such as those experiencing homelessness, lack access to the internet or live in rural areas.

“Some people, I’m understanding, they’re confused or they don’t know how to navigate the internet,” Woolley said. “So this is kind of targeting that.”

Woolley and McKinley chose to administer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine, to demographics with limited access and resources since it only requires one dose, and recipients wouldn’t have to schedule a follow-up appointment.

The event took place one day before the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause in all Janssen vaccine distributions, after six severe blood clot cases were reported in people who had taken the shot. All six cases appeared in women between 18 and 48 years old, within a week or two after vaccination.

Because of the distribution pause, the United Methodist clinic will move forward using the Moderna vaccine next Monday, April 19 from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For now, the CDC mandated that any extra Janssen doses should be refrigerated and labeled “Do not use. Awaiting guidance.”

On Monday, the clinic had 20 available Janssen doses. They vaccinated five people.

McKinley said she still encourages everyone to engage in COVID mitigation protocols, even as the vaccine rollout increases.

“That’s the way out of this,” she said.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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