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Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be key to getting more San Diegans vaccinated

Posted at 5:22 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 20:22:09-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines have shipped out to different parts of the country.

That’s after the vaccine was granted an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the weekend.
While San Diego County does not know when the vaccines will arrive locally, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is expecting 380,000 doses possibly this week.

“I’m very excited about the vaccine. The more we can vaccinate people, the more likely we can defeat this pandemic,” said Dr. William Tseng, Internist and one of Kaiser Permanente’s vaccine team leaders in San Diego.
Tseng has been working on the frontlines during the pandemic, treating COVID-19 patients.

He said the new vaccine could be a game-changer in San Diego for multiple reasons.

“You no longer need to have what's called a 'cold chain storage' where, every step of the way, it needs to be a certain temperature,” said Tseng.

Unlike Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures.

It’s also given in a single dose, so no need to worry about a second dose appointment weeks later.
While logistics are still being discussed, Tseng said having this vaccine available could make it much easier to get vaccinated at your doctor’s office.

“Now you can have every single office, every single clinic that has a refrigerator can be a point, a source, where anybody can get vaccinated. So that’s great news. Every vaccine is a potential life saved,” said Tseng.

He said this could also be an answer to efficiently vaccinating more homebound patients.

“Our biggest issue was really, how do we keep it under cold storage? How do we store it?,” he said. “The Johnson and Johnson will completely change those limitations.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a 72 percent efficacy rate in the United States, which is lower than Pfizer and Moderna, but Tseng said the vaccine has proven to prevent severe illness and death, which is what doctors are striving for.

“It’s 85 percent overall protective against severe disease or hospitalizations or death, and when you wait a little longer, up to 49 days, it’s 100 percent protective against dying or being in the hospitals. So those are great results,” he said. “If you catch it and you have absolutely no symptoms, and you don’t end up in the hospital and you don’t die from it, that’s what I care about and that’s what Johnson and Johnson can deliver.”

Tseng said the other advantage is that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been tested against the coronavirus’s South African strain.

“It still showed remarkable effectiveness against severe disease and dying from it,” he said.

Medical experts are urging all Americans to get any of the three vaccines once available to them.