State health officials say the next vaccine slated for approval will be a game-changer

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — State health officials are optimistic about getting more people vaccinated in the coming weeks. A new vaccine expected to get approval requires only one dose.

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Lt. Gov. Josh Green calls the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a game-changer. It does not just add more to the supply chain — because only one shot is needed — it speeds up the process.

“A lot of the work right now that’s going into the vaccination program is coordination, just having your first shot and then three weeks later your second shot for Pfizer, or four weeks later for Moderna. Just having one shot and you’re done, I think that’s gonna be very appealing to a lot of people,” said Green.

He says test results show that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might not be as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have rates of 90% to 95%. Green said, it is still good enough even if it is 70% to 80%.

“Cause right now the first shot alone of the Pfizer or Moderna only gives you about 50-55 percent of immunity. So this could be a breakthrough for us. Again, just having to do one shot really simplifies things,” said Green.

He says FDA approval probably will not happen until March, but it will go a long way in the state’s efforts to ramp up vaccination with the next group, 1-C, which includes people 65 to 74 years old. It will also appeal to many others in the general public because it is more convenient.

“A lot of younger people may decide to take this because it’s a little bit more expedient, because you only have one shot and they’re very low risk anyway,” said Green.

There are also plans to offer mass vaccinations at other places aside from Pier 2 and the Blaisdell Center with a lot more vaccines expected in the months ahead. Green said, sites are being explored in the neighbor islands as well as in West Oahu.

Some health experts on the mainland are recommending people to wear two masks with more contagious variants of COVID-19 found elsewhere. State officials say they have not found any of those variants here, and Green says wearing two masks is not necessary.

“One mask has been sufficient to prevent the spread by a large margin. I mean really it’s very effective, if both people are wearing a mask opposite one another, you’re not gonna see the spread of COVID,” he said.

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