March 02, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use – an important new weapon in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike the other vaccines that are currently approved for use, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose vaccine and can be stored with normal refrigeration. That makes the new vaccine more versatile and easier to administer than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death, some have raised concerns about the vaccine’s efficacy compared to the Moderna and Pfizer products.
All three vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness or death, and that should be the focus of how CMA physicians discuss the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with patients. In the coming weeks, CMA will be working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to promote the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
In trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine brought cases of hospitalization and death down to zero, neutralizing the threat from COVID-19 that has disrupted all of our lives over the last year.
CMA is focused on getting people to accept whichever vaccine is first available to them so we can beat COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
Below is some messaging being used by CMA and CDPH about how to talk about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
I hear the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is less effective than Moderna and Pfizer. Should I wait for the more effective one?
Get any vaccine you can as soon as you can. Like the other vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective. Like Moderna and Pfizer, it was more than 85% effective at preventing serious COVID-19 disease.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective enough to help us all but eliminate serious illness or death from COVID-19, and to allow us to reopen our schools, our economy and our society.
Of the roughly 75,000 people who have received one of the five vaccines in a research trial, not a single person has died from COVID-19, and only a few people appear to have been hospitalized. None have remained hospitalized 28 days after receiving a shot.
To put that in perspective, it helps to think about what COVID-19 has done so far to a representative group of 75,000 American adults: It has killed roughly 150 of them and sent several hundred more to the hospital. The vaccines reduce those numbers to zero and nearly zero, based on the research trials.
Unlike the other approved vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot as opposed to two. That means we can vaccinate more people in a shorter period of time to help turn the tide against this deadly disease.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also easier to distribute to rural areas, community clinics and local doctor’s offices and pharmacies. It does not have the same kind of specialty storage requirements as other vaccines and can be stored in a normal refrigerator. This makes it an important weapon in our fight against COVID-19 in parts of the state that are more difficult to reach.