The state of Delaware expects 8,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as early as March 5.
The one-dose vaccine, approved Saturday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is expected to speed up vaccinations nationwide against the coronavirus. It’s expected to be approved Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control.
The other two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, both require two doses for the vaccine, ideally within 28 days, to achieve the best results. That has complicated the release of the vaccine.
Gov. John Carney repeatedly has said that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a game changer for Delaware, which is now now vaccinating people in phase 1b. It includes people older than 65 and essential workers such as teachers and child care workers.
The state said in a press release Saturday that ongoing allocations of J&J vaccine are expected to be more limited, and even though vaccine supply to the state has increased recently, there is still not enough to meet the large demand.
Tens of thousands of older people are still waiting to be vaccinated, and phase 1C has been delayed in favor of making sure people have their second doses off vaccine as the state focused on older people.
“We are thrilled to be able to have access to a third safe and effective vaccine in our state,” Carney said in the press release.
The state Division of Public Health is still developing its plans to distribute the vaccine but has posted a position paper about how it now plans to handle it.
The press release took pains to say the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are all 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19, and all similarly effective at preventing severe disease “C11OVID-19.
The J&J vaccine is reported to be 85% effective in U.S. trials at preventing moderate to severe COVID disease, and it is 72% effective in preventing symptomatic infection, the press release said.
It works differently than the Pfizer and Moderna one. The Johnson & Johnson one works by inserting a small piece of the coronavirus’s genetic material into a weakened version of a common cold virus called an adenovirus. The immune system responds by switching on the cells’ alarm systems to activate immune cells nearby. The immune cells then spot the intruder proteins of COVID-19 to fight the infection. The vaccine does not cause coronavirus disease in persons receiving the vaccine.
“Having different types of vaccines available for use, especially ones with different storage and handling requirements and dosing recommendations, can offer more options and flexibility for vaccine providers. We remain committed to vaccinating as many eligible Delawareans, as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.
The J&J vaccine has similar storage requirements as Moderna, and is likely to be approved for use by individuals 18 and older, like Moderna as well, the press release said.
The potential side effects from the J&J vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who received the other two vaccines, with the most common being injection site pain, headache, fatigue, and body aches, the release said.
J&J reported no serious side effects from the vaccine, and there were no deaths directly linked to the vaccine itself. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects, the release said.
The J&J vaccine may not be used to complete the vaccine series for other vaccines.