Lt. Gov. discusses who in Hawaii should get Johnson & Johnson vaccine


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The US Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, Feb. 27. It is the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine available in the nation.

Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson all prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

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State health officials anticipate receiving about 10,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson within the week.

State health director Dr. Libby Char said on Friday, Feb. 25, the federal government authorized the production of a small amount to begin the rollout.

“It’s going to be very sporadic at first, and it won’t be that much they said there isn’t a big stockpile,” Dr. Char explained. “So, the week after that we’ll probably get nothing and then slowly ramp up what they’re giving us.”

The single-dose vaccine is considered 72% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections, whereas Pfizer and Moderna are 95% effective.

“Johnson & Johnson has prevented 85% of severe disease, and to date, no one has had a fatality who got the J&J shot,” explained Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green. “So, it was 100% effective in stopping deaths, so it’s really good.”

Green said, the one-shot vaccine could be beneficial for younger people or those who can not easily get a second shot three to four weeks later and people who are considered low-risk for catching severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Hawaii continues vaccinating the 1B group, including frontline essential workers and kupuna 75-years-old and older.

The state hopes to begin vaccinating people 70 and older by the time more Johnson & Johnson shipments arrive, which could happen by Monday, March 15.

“If given a choice, right now, and this is just me, 65 and older I think should stick with the Pfizer or Moderna just because the numbers were a little bit better,” Green said. “And I think that Johnson & Johnson is going to be super popular and effective with people on the younger side that have even lower risk than others.”

He said, people 70 and younger could certainly get Johnson & Johnson if they are healthy and have no underlying health issues.

He said, large pods like Pier 2 and Blaisdell will likely have different vaccine options available once more is produced and said, it could be readily available at pharmacies in the near future too because Johnson & Johnson can be stored in regular refrigerators.

With three vaccines now in the picture, Lt. Gov. Green said, it is very important people remember which vaccine they have received in case any of the currently approved vaccines require an additional booster shot in the future.

“We don’t have any information yet on what the booster situation will be like, so you may very well be committed to that same company and the same methodology that you got the first time, just so people are somewhat aware of that,” he explained.

Green also said discussions are happening in Washington D.C. about possibly setting aside early batches of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to specifically open up schools.

“We will get guidance from the federal government on that soon, it would make some sense to accelerate school openings with one shot,” he continued.

He said, the state will continue vaccinating the 1B group for now.

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