Doctors said the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine offers strong protection against coronavirus.
However, some experts are concerned people will view this vaccine as second-class or inferior to Moderna’s and Pfizer’s.
Our state has battled coronavirus for more than a year, so news about this third vaccine getting the green light is encouraging for many.
"The more vaccines, the more people can get vaccinated," said Connie Derooy, who lives in Seattle and works as a nurse.
"It's exciting to have more options out for people," said Nicholas Gottfred, who lives in Burien.
The numbers are impressive: Johnson & Johnson said its COVID-19 vaccine is 85 percent effective in protecting against severe illness and 100 percent effective in preventing getting hospitalized or dying from coronavirus. Its rate of preventing people from getting sick at all is 72 percent. That's lower than the 95 and 94 percent rates from Moderna and Pfizer, but doctors are still positive.
"It's important to remember that the trials happened at different times, so we’re not comparing apples to apples," said Dr. Ali Mokdad, University of Washington Medicine's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Mokdad said it’s somewhat unfair comparing the efficacy rates between these vaccines. That's because the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were not originally tested against the new, highly contagious variants.
He said that’s why the overall efficacy rate with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a little lower.
Mokdad said new research underway shows these three vaccines are very similarly effective against the major variants and one is not necessarily better than another in that regard. Still, much more study is needed.
"So these vaccines, the three of them, are exactly the same and nobody should turn away from any of them, you should take it," Mokdad said.
UW Professor of Medicine and Head of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Division Anna Wald points out efficacy numbers for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are higher than the annual flu.
She said this third vaccine has other advantages – namely, that it’s just one dose.
"I think a lot of people don’t like getting vaccines, this one they can get just one shot and not two shots," Wald said.
Wald said some people may like getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it uses a more established technology compared to the new mRNA vaccine technology.
Another big difference with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: it can be stored in a normal refrigerator. Experts said this will make transporting the vaccine much easier.