SALEM, Ore. — The first shipments of the third COVID-19 vaccine to receive FDA emergency use approval are expected to arrive in Oregon this week, the Oregon Health Authority said Monday.
The vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson received emergency use approval on Saturday. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, this one is intended to be administered in a single dose without a subsequent "booster." According to OHA, it can also be safely stored in a refrigerator for months, making it easier to distribute.
OHA estimated that 34,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrived in the state this week. The agency said that it is working with local public health officials, hospital systems, and retail pharmacies on distribution.
“Having access to a third highly effective COVID-19 vaccine is a game changing development for Oregonians,’ said Paul Cieslak, M.D, medical director for communicable diseases and immunization at OHA's Public Health Division. “We believe this vaccine is effective against the virus, and a one-dose regimen will allow us to vaccinate more Oregonians more quickly.”
After the initial shipment, state officials anticipate that fewer doses of the new vaccine will arrive over the following several weeks.
The process for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine review and approval was the same as it was for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The company submitted its application for EUA on February 4.
The FDA's review of Johnson & Johnson's application reported that it was 66 percent effective for moderate to severe or critical COVID-19 in all groups and across all regions studied, starting at 28 days after vaccination. The observed efficacy in the U.S. was 72 percent, though the trial also observed participants in Latin America, Brazil, and South Africa.
“The best thing is that this one-dose vaccine was 85 percent efficacious in preventing severe COVID-19,” Dr. Cieslak said.
Common side effects of the vaccine included pain at the injection site, mild to moderate headache, fatigue, and muscle aches.