The CDC and FDA authorized the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use this weekend. Ahead of the vaccine's rollout, local health officials are encouraging residents to get a dose of any approved vaccine once they're eligible.
According to company data, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 66 percent effective at preventing moderate cases of COVID-19 and 85 percent effective at preventing severe cases.
The Pfizer vaccine has a 95 percent efficacy rate, and Moderna’s is 94 percent; but St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is just as effective at preventing the most serious outcomes of COVID-19 as Moderna or Pfizer.
“Even looking at severe disease, J&J is just a shade less efficacious," Fox said. "It’s more effective than our typical flu shot, and it’s extraordinarily effective at preventing death and hospitalization.”
Fox said the important thing is to "get some vaccine into as many people as we can, as quickly as we can."
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has the added benefit of requiring only one dose to develop immunity, rather than two. It also doesn’t require ultra-cold storage, making it easier to transport and store than Moderna or Pfizer.
South Bend Mayor James Mueller said while he may not be able to choose which vaccine he gets once he's eligible, he would prefer Johnson & Johnson.
"I don't like needles, so one shot versus two is good for me," Mueller said.
Fox said the state of Indiana is expecting a shipment of Johnson and Johnson vaccine on Wednesday, but is still finalizing plans for how to get those doses to local clinics.
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