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O’Neal’s Drug Store administers Beaufort County’s first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

O’Neal’s Drug Store gave the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to 150 people in Belhaven on Wednesday.
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 10:33 PM EST
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BELHAVEN, N.C. (WITN) - For a few months, independent pharmacy O’Neal’s Drug Store was eager to participate in vaccine rollout efforts in Beaufort County.

But after helping in several clinics with the Moderna vaccine, the independent pharmacy led distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to 150 people in Belhaven on Wednesday.

The Beaufort County Health Department gave 300 of the J&J vaccine to O’Neal’s Drug Store to administer this week. Wednesday’s clinic was by appointment only and the slots for the next clinic of the J&J vaccine on Friday in Chocowinity are filled.

However, those who got the J&J vaccine on Wednesday waited at a building for their shot, motivated by different reasons.

“I decided to get the shot because I’m a teacher in a childcare center,” Teresa Clayton said. “I did it to protect myself and to protect the students that I work with, and the people that I worked with at the center.”

Essential frontline workers in Group 3 became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

“Well I just wanted to do my part,” Phillip Holloway said. “You know, I have children, I have elderly parents and you know, just being in the church and making sure that you know, I take care of myself as well as others.”

But in Belhaven, it was a one-stop-shop for those who got the J&J brand.

“We were able to get the one dose out, we don’t have to worry about rescheduling an appointment and using up resources there,” pharmacist Kirsten Bradley said.

O’Neal’s staff is making sure everyone has a chance to get the vaccine, especially in rural areas.

“Our target audience is people who have not been able to get transportation, drive themselves to get to the other larger events,” pharmacist Neal O’Neal said.

Each vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has five doses.

After a patient gets their single-dose shot, they’re asked to wait fifteen minutes before going home.

“We have to work as a team,” Holloway said before getting his first and only dose. “This is something that’s affecting us all, so if we can all go ahead and get vaccinated and you know, just try to do what we can to get back to life as soon as possible.”

Working at vaccine sites is a rewarding part of being a pharmacist for both Bradley and O’Neal.

“It feels great, having the chance to give back has just been amazing. And we really feel like a lot of the independent pharmacies can reach many of our small towns,” Bradley said.

“We’ve done three or four months of preparation to get to this point where we’re able to get the vaccine and now as the vaccine supply ramps up, it’s been, it’s been really satisfying and we’ve just been ready for it,” O’Neal said.

Beaufort County Health Department will not be using the J&J vaccine to vaccinate those coming through the public community vaccine clinics at this time.

Beaufort County residents can still call O’Neal’s Drug Store to find out more information on when the next appointments are available.

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