HONOLULU (KHON2) — Johnson & Johnson plans to file for emergency use approval of its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine within a week. Doctors say, it will give those who take it a good level of protection and be available to more people even though it is not as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Vaccine experts say the lower efficiency rate of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not something to focus on. The important thing is it will have enough protection to keep inoculated individuals out of the hospital.
“You should take it because it is going to protect you against severe disease. It may not completely protect you from getting infected, that’s something we don’t know yet, but it will give you a good level of protection,” said Dr. Axel Lehrer from the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
There are concerns that the vaccines are not as effective with the COVID variant from South Africa, which has been found in South Carolina. Dr. Lehrer, says Hawaii’s travel restrictions and the State’s efforts have done a good job of keeping most variants out.
“Hawaii is actually doing really good, so I don’t think we actually have a big concern right now. Plus, knowing all of the data that comes out of South Africa right now shows that the vaccines are still efficacious,” said Lehrer.
He adds that the big thing is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. It will be more convenient for everyone and easier to administer — so more people will want to take it. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can also be stored in regular refrigeration, unlike Phizer and Moderna, so the vaccine will be made available in many other places.
“I would expect that a vaccine like Johnson & Johnson would be one that you’ll be able to get at your regular doctor’s office, or maybe at just the pharmacy around the corner,” said Lehrer.
Health experts say it could get approval and be shipped nationwide in March and the company says it plans to produce 100 million doses by June. Lt. Gov. Josh Green says, it will come in just in time when the State should be ready to vaccinate those 65-74 years old and the general public.
“It will not be surprising at all to me if what we see is a lot of people who are lower risk, those in the 1C category or Stage 2 or Category 2, very low risk to get vaccinations,” said Green.