A New COVID-19 Vaccine is almost Here!

What to know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

There is an old saying that “all good things come in threes.” That’s now true on the COVID-19 vaccine front. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson (J&J), or Janssen, COVID-19 vaccine. The J&J vaccine is the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the United States. It joins the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in the fight against Coronavirus. And its arrival will soon make an impact on our state’s supply.

So how does the J&J vaccine differ from others? And how will it impact our state’s distribution? Let’s dive in.

What is the J&J Vaccine?

The J&J COVID-19 vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that can help prevent COVID-19.

Authorized for adults 18 and over, the J&J vaccine is a “viral vector vaccine.” Vector vaccines use a common, weakened virus (adenovirus) to help our bodies create a protein to fight the COVID-19 virus. Scientists have studied viral vector vaccines since the 1970s. The technology was used for vaccines against Zika and Ebola.

How effective is it?

The vaccine is highly effective. According to the Emergency Use Authorization, it prevents 66% of moderate COVID-19 symptoms. Better yet, it is 85% effective at preventing severe COVID-19.

The vaccine’s protection against new COVID-19 variants is also very encouraging. Clinical trials show that the vaccine protects against “emerging variants of concern,” including ones from South Africa and Brazil.

Who participated in these clinical trials?

In one phase of the clinical trials alone, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had about 44,000 worldwide volunteers. About 19,000 were from the United States. Here’s a breakdown of those participants:

  • 34% over age 60
  • 45% female
  • 59% white/Caucasian
  • 45% Hispanic/Latinx
  • 19% Black/African American
  • 9% Native American
  • 3% Asian
  • 41% had a comorbidity that increased risk for severe COVID-19

How safe is the vaccine?

No serious safety concerns were found in the clinical trials or the FDA’s scientific review. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup both recommend the vaccine based on its safety and efficacy.

Common side effects were temporary and included a sore arm, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain.

How is this one different from the others?

There are a few key differences:

  • The J&J vaccine requires only one dose (Pfizer and Moderna require two doses)
  • The J&J vaccine is a vector vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines)
  • The J&J vaccine can be shipped through regular shipping methods and stored at refrigerated temperatures for three months. (Moderna and Pfizer must be shipped and stored at extremely low temperatures)

While the vaccines differ from one another, they share an important commonality. Each of the COVID-19 vaccines is effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

How will this impact Washington?

Very favorably!

The J&J vaccine will improve access to vaccines in areas where providers don’t have ultra-cold or freezer storage available.

And since the J&J vaccine only requires one dose, there’s no need to worry about scheduling a second appointment.

Like the other vaccines, the demand currently exceeds the available supply. The J&J vaccine will help — but it may take several weeks to make a significant impact in Washington. We expect to receive about 60,000 J&J doses this week, but more will arrive later this month.

If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, plan to get it as soon as it’s your turn. And if you’re not eligible yet, thank you for waiting patiently! In the meantime, continue to help keep our communities safe. Please keep wearing your masks, staying six feet apart, washing your hands, and get tested for COVID-19 if you need to.

More information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

See what vaccine phase we are in now at CovidVaccineWA.org. To find out if it’s your turn, visit FindYourPhaseWA.org and our timeline of vaccine phases. Check the vaccine locator map for a list of places where you can get the vaccine, which is provided at no cost.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health

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