Simplicity of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help 'pave the way forward'

The Johnson and Johnson one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is on its way to a Food and Drug Administration approval and there are factors to consider about the latest vaccine that doctors say will make the pandemic a bit more simple.

For starters, this one is not as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, however, it’s simpler to both store and distribute.

Distribution has been an issue in many states, including Arizona, as the federal government recently declined a request for an additional 300,000 doses from Arizona healthcare workers.

How to sign up and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

"Its one shot can be carried at regular refrigeration at the office. It does not need these sub zero temperatures," says emergency physician at Valleywise health, Dr. Frank LoVecchio.

That means it's more likely that to become available at your local doctor’s office, but the vaccine of course does have its downsides.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 72% effective in the US compared to the Pfizer and moderna vaccine which are both more than 90% effective against COVID-19. Globally, the vaccine is about 66% effective.

LoVecchio says not to let those numbers get you down

"We are concerned with this of course I don’t think it means the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not effective. In fact, I think it is quite effective. Some years we have a flu vaccine that is just 50% effective so these numbers are still promising," he explained.

Arizona's COVID-19 vaccine prioritization

LoVecchio says the reason there's a difference between the US and global effectiveness of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is because of virus mutations.

"There are more of these variants in other parts of the world and it did not work as well against these variants. These variants happen because first, you get COVID-19 then it starts to mutate a little bit. It becomes different things and then it causes this problem," LoVecchio explained.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both appear to have better results against any mutated strains of the virus, but LoVecchio says all things considered, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine may be the one to help to pave the way forward because of its accessibility.

"The science is really good, really amazing, the fastest a vaccine has been developed and I would say now if you were offered the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, I would say take it," LoVecchio said.

It's important to remember, the vaccines do not make you totally immune to the virus, and there's the possibility if you had the strain of the virus originally in the US that you could still get one of the mutated forms of the virus.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily