Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine protects against virus

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Studies show the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and 86% effective in preventing severe complications from COVID-19.

On Friday, an FDA advisory committee will review those findings and decide if it will grant emergency use authorization.

The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine could arrive in the Philadelphia area by the beginning of March, officials said.

Two million doses are ready to ship nationwide next week pending FDA emergency use approval, and 20 million doses could be nationally available by the end of March.

"It could potentially change the game in how fast we could accelerate the vaccination program," said David Mihalic, the director of pharmacy services for Einstein Healthcare Network.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is different from Moderna and Pfizer, with a shelf life of up to two years versus months. It also does not include potential allergens, meaning a vaccination clinic providing Johnson & Johnson shots could cut out the typical 15-minute observation periods after injection.

The Johnson & Johnson shot uses a virus strand that doesn't harm humans to teach your cells to build a fight plan against COVID-19.

"It uses a different approach to teach our immune system how to recognize the virus," said Mihalic.

Right now, the fight is on to secure a vaccination appointment in Pennsylvania. There is extreme demand and very few doses to go around.

"The systems are definitely not friendly for those who aren't computer savvy," said Kaytie Innamorati of Center City.

Innamorati has volunteered to become a vaccine "finder" as part of a program started on Facebook called "PA COVID Vaccine Match Maker." It pairs people who needed a vaccine with tech-savvy appointment finders.

Max Rotondo of Bala Cynwyd has been participating in the program since its infancy.

"The best time to go on is between midnight and 6 in the morning, of course when everyone is sleeping, but that's when they release the appointments. This weekend I was able to schedule 24 appointments for people," said Rotondo.

"This is what people need to get back to that connection that we've been missing for the past year. This is it," said Innamorati.

In one week, FEMA will arrive at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to provide up to 6,000 vaccination shots per day. FEMA will supply its vaccine doses. The Philadelphia Health Department vaccine supply will not be affected by the new vaccination site.
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