“There are some people who said, ‘I want the one dose and I want to get it over with, I don’t want to come back for a second dose,’” Orange County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau said during a March 2 virtual press conference.
“We are working very hard with different sectors to see which sector would prefer to have the one dose and then they will be done with the vaccine, and of course, by virtue of doing that you’re giving people choice.”
When the FDA authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Feb. 27, it became the third federally-approved COVID-19 vaccine in the country. The FDA previously approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two injections spaced three and four weeks apart, respectively.
“It’s about any day now they’re expecting to get that notification that [the vaccines] are in shipment to the state, we will be getting them down to the counties on X date so we’re all just waiting at this point and we’re all very excited because having a third vaccine is going to make a huge difference in getting our folks in the county vaccinated,” Bartlett told The Epoch Times March 1.
The county does not have an implementation plan in place for the new vaccine, since it doesn’t know exactly how much supply will arrive, or when, Bartlett said.
Because it only requires a single dose, the vaccine will accelerate the vaccination process, since officials will only need one vile per person instead of two, and residents will not have to return to their health care provider, Bartlett said.
She said it could be a good option for certain groups of people that might have difficulties getting a second dose within the required span of time, such as homeless individuals and frequent travelers.
A Less Effective Choice
Although the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just a single visit to a medical provider, it’s less effective than the other vaccines. The FDA says it is about 67 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe or critical COVID-19 at least two weeks after inoculation.
Pfizer is 95 percent effective, and Moderna is 94 percent effective, according to the FDA.
However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has shown to be 85 percent effective in preventing severe or critical cases occurring at least 28 days after vaccination, the FDA said.
Bartlett said that older seniors might not be given the new vaccine because of its lower efficacy rate.
“For the very old, frail population where they’ve got multiple comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, etc.,” she said, “if they get COVID, they have a greater chance of getting hospitalized and dying, and so they wanted to keep that whole population as safe as possible.
“Whereas if you’ve got other people that are getting the J&J shot and they don’t have the comorbidities and they’re younger, the efficacy rate isn’t as impactful because if they get COVID, chances are they’re not going to get hospitalized and they’re not going to die.”
Meanwhile, Chau said there should be a goal to push a vaccine of any type to those who want it as quickly as possible in order to prevent more variants of COVID-19 from forming.
“If we can stop the spread of the virus as quick as we can, then we can stop more variants from coming alive,” he said. “Remember the coronavirus mutated frequently from day one. That’s the nature of coronavirus, how we get a certain variant to stand out compared to the other is whether or not a segment of the population able to spread certain variants, certain mutation strains, very quickly.”