Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets green light from FDA

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Johnson and Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine, meaning within days, those shots could be going into arms.

As early as Monday, 3.9 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to ship out to states, pharmacies, and community clinics.

This third authorized vaccine is expected to be a game-changer in the United States.

Action News spoke to Rite Aid pharmacist Michael Smikovecus who's helped to vaccinate people at several Philadelphia Rite Aid locations. He's been waiting for this news for weeks.

"The refrigeration requirements are a lot easier than some of the other vaccines out there, so it's going to get the ball rolling," said Smikovecus.

Philadelphia health officials say the city expects to receive 13,000 doses within the next week.

Among distribution, 70,000 doses are expected in New Jersey and 8,000 doses for Delaware.

Medical facilities like the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania hope to receive the new vaccine soon. Officials say this single-dose vaccine will be easier to give to patients.

"Many of the people in our hospitals don't live in the region. It's difficult to arrange for the second vaccine. A vaccine that requires a single shot would be ideal to use on in-patients," said H.U.P. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Neil Fishman.

He says while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66% effective overall in preventing COVID-19 in trials, it was 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

"I've seen way too many people die alone from this infection. The one thing that this vaccine clearly can do is prevent death," said Fishman.

On Sunday, a CDC advisory committee will meet to set new guidelines for administering the new vaccine.
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