Doctor says Johnson & Johnson vaccine could get Californians closer to immunity

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is projected to arrive in California next week, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

In the war against COVID-19 there is hope after Johnson & Johnson's vaccine moved a step closer to getting authorized.

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"We really didn't have any concerns. There is not a big safety signal here," said Dr. Hayley Gans, Infectious disease specialist at Stanford Medicine and member of the FDA vaccine panel.

Dr. Gans is one of the doctors who gave the J&J vaccine the green light Friday. Data shows that the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85% effective at preventing severe illness. What will make it easier to distribute across the state is its basic storage requirement.

"There is not a storage issue and there is not the need for the dramatic cold degrees that the other vaccines need," said Dr. Gans.

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Another aspect that will impact distribution is the statewide system. By March 31, California is expected to switch over to a centralized vaccine appointment system by Blue Shield.

Dr. Michael Wasserman is part of the California vaccine advisory committee.

Luz Pena: "Do you project that more vaccination sites will open now that we have a third vaccine in the mix?"

Dr. Wasserman: "I would certainly expect that to be the case. I would expect there to be more people who are able to give the vaccine. Primary care physicians who know who their patients are who need to be vaccinated. Hopefully we will be able to give them the vaccine to their offices."

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With more vaccines available Dr. Gans says we have a better chance at beating the virus and reaching herd immunity.

"What we predict needed for herd immunity is somewhere about 60-70% of our population to show immunity. That includes obviously having been exposed to the virus itself. We have that population. Only about 13% I think of our population is actually vaccinated at this point. So we have some work to do, but this is now going to accelerate it. I think that we will really start to see our numbers turn around in the next two months," said Gans.

Luz Pena: "When the Johnson & Johnson vaccine came out, variants were already in our population. So, they were able to test that. How did that go?"

Dr. Gans: "Actually the data out of South Africa looks great. The data from some of the other variants in Brazil we're still not sure. In the South African study about 94% of the strain that they tested were those variants and it was still protected against severe disease."

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Since the coronavirus started spreading across the globe in late 2019, scientists have been looking for a vaccine. Now that vaccines are proven, it will ultimately be up to each state to determine who will get the vaccine, and when?



Gov. Gavin Newsom said California is projected to receive the first J&J vaccine doses next week.

"We anticipate receiving 380,000 to 380,300 doses of the J&J vaccine next week and predictably over the next three weeks," said Gov. Newsom.


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