When Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, the move stepped up the country’s vaccination efforts with a third key tool – one that is significantly different from Pfizer’s first two approved vaccines -BioNTech and Moderna are different.
Most importantly, it is given in a single dose rather than two doses and can be kept unfrozen in a regular refrigerator for up to three months – features that promise greater flexibility as public health officials try to immunize Americans as quickly as possible.
Much remains to be decided about how this new tool will be used. Here’s what we know so far.
When will people get the new vaccine?
In the next days. Johnson & Johnson started shipping cans on Monday. They can be used from Tuesday once they reach the vaccination sites.
Will adding the new offering speed up the vaccination effort?
The increase in availability will initially be limited. The company had approximately 3.9 million cans available immediately, but deliveries could be inconsistent for a few weeks after that. (To compare, the nation consumes as many doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in just over two days.)
According to Johnson & Johnson, around 16 million more cans will be shipped by the end of March. Even so, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will continue to make up the majority of the national supply.
How is the new vaccine allocated?
So are the two previous vaccines: relative to the population of each state or territory.
Who will get the new vaccine?
That is still being discussed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that the vaccine can be given to people aged 18 and over, and state officials are working on their guidelines.
Because the new vaccine is given in a single shot and doesn’t require refrigerated storage, some experts and officials have suggested targeting it to hard-to-reach populations (such as rural residents or the homeless) or people who may not hold an appointment for a second Shot one (like students or people with mobility problems).
However, there are concerns that some groups will be favored or disadvantaged and the Biden government has said it would insist that the new vaccine be distributed fairly.
Can I choose which vaccine to get?
It is not clear. Right now, people get the vaccine the site has on hand when their turn comes, and scheduling systems generally don’t let users know what vaccine it is in advance. However, depending on how states choose to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it may be possible to effectively choose what you get by choosing where to sign up to get it.
Which vaccine should I prefer?
Health experts say the best shot is the fastest you can get, whichever turns out to be. All three approved vaccines are extremely protective, and the differences between them are pale in comparison, they say, with the risk of becoming picky and missing the chance of getting a shot because it wasn’t your first choice.