60,000 doses of new vaccine could be in state next week

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The nation is poised to get a third vaccine against COVID-19, but health officials are concerned that at first glance the Johnson & Johnson shot may not be seen as equal to other options from Pfizer and Moderna./HONS

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services 

The state’s top health official said Friday the anticipated approval of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be a “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19.

Cara Christ said she hopes to get another 50,000 to 60,000 doses as early as this coming week now that an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday recommended approval, paving the way for the agency’s go-ahead to start shipping it. And that will be on top of what the state already is receiving in doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Pinal County health officials said the county received a new shipment of the Moderna vaccine this week and began distributing shots at its Florence Library site. Shipments to the county were delayed due to the winter storm impacting transportation hubs last week.

The county also cautioned people about getting other vaccinations too close to the time when they received their COVID-19 shots.

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“We are getting a number of people coming for the COVID vaccine who have had another type of vaccine such as flu, shingles, pneumonia or others in the 14 days prior to coming for their COVID vaccine,” the health department said in a statement. “Please do not schedule an appointment unless a minimum of 14 days has passed.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not have as high a rate of total disease prevention as the other two. They are considered 95% effective after the second dose.

By contrast, the Johnson & Johnson is considered 85% effective against the most severe cases and just about 66% at preventing moderate cases.

But Christ pointed out that it has been found to be 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death. That is significant in dealing with a disease that has killed close to 15,900 Arizonans and more than 500,000 nationwide.

More significant, Christ said, is the fact that this is a single-dose vaccine.

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