The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not need special storage and requires just one dose; however, the company’s initial report said it was 66% effective overall in preventing moderate or severe COVID. The protection was higher in the U.S., at 72%, but less than the 95%-plus rating for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
There is concern that people might think of it as a lesser vaccine.
Avula said logistically it would make sense to distribute Johnson & Johnson vaccine to rural areas. “But we absolutely cannot suggest that people in rural America should get a lesser effective vaccine,” he said.
Avula thinks the vaccine could be directed to younger, healthier people because they generally fare better if they contract COVID.
In approving vaccines, the Food and Drug Administration also makes recommendations as to who should receive them.
Avula is also sorting through questions about whether current vaccine supplies are reaching minority populations. Initially, data about race and ethnicity were not being collected on vaccine distribution, so the state is trying to cross-match shots given against other state databases, such as from the Department of Motor Vehicles, to fill in this information.
“We know African Americans and Hispanics and Latino residents are at a higher risk to contract COVID, to be hospitalized with COVID and unfortunately to pass away from COVID,” he said. “We need to ensure efforts to prioritize those individuals, African Americans and Latinos, are underway.”
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