Four million doses of the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are already on their way to locations across the country, and San Diego County says it should have its share sometime this week.
The amount of doses coming here and when they’ll arrive is not yet known, but many in the healthcare community consider it a game changer.
“The best vaccine is the one you can get in your arm as quickly as possible," ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Paul Schalch-Lepe said.
That’s the true value of a third vaccine, according to Dr. Schalch-Lepe. Those of us that aren’t health care professionals might be able to at least look at the logistics as a plus.
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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose, which could eliminating some of the scheduling miscues we’ve seen with the other two two-dose vaccines. Also, it's stored in conventional refrigeration, which could eliminate some distribution and storage hang-ups.
“By having three players now, three vaccines available, hopefully they become as widespread as your regular flu shot in your pharmacy,” Dr. Schalch-Lepe said.
Newly married Chris and Katie Carmichael-Reynolds have had their future on hold since the beginning of the pandemic.
“No one was able to come to our wedding because we didn't have the vaccine, so we just kinda wore masks with our parents and that was it. So it has been pretty hard,” Katie Carmichael Reynolds said.
Chris Carmichael-Reynolds is an English teacher with a job in Japan waiting for him until he and his wife can get there safely.
“A vaccination means I would get over there earlier. I've been delayed for about a year now,” he said.
In clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine demonstrated a 72% efficacy in the U.S. That's lower than the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but Dr. Schalch-Lepe said it’s 100% effective at preventing COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths.
“It’s still achieving its very important objective of keeping people healthy even if they are only getting mild symptoms,” he explained.
Dr. Schalch-Lepe said with more places opening up and more people becoming eligible to get the shot, the release of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is good timing.
“You want to get them [the population in their 30s 40s and 50s] vaccinated because they are the people out there still giving the virus a host to continue to propagate and replicate out there,” he said.
At this point, Dr. Schalch-Lepe said getting ahead of the virus is now a race against time.
Starting Monday, the distribution of all vaccines statewide is the responsibility of Blue Shield of California.
A statement released by UC San Diego Health explained Bluie Shield’s role.
“All providers and local health jurisdictions move to a uniform, state-directed eligibility criteria. Blue Shield of California will begin making allocation recommendations – based on criteria set by the state – to state officials for doses delivered the following week."