Still hesitant about getting the vaccine? Health experts are here to reassure you that it is in your best interest to get that shot!
“It’s a bit like, do you want a Lamborghini or a Chevy to get to work?” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, who was a paid consultant in the J&J study. “Ultimately, I just need to get to work. If a Chevy is available, sign me up.”
1. All three vaccines protect against hospitalization and death.
A month after receiving the Johnson & Johnson shot there were no deaths or hospitalizations in those who had been vaccinated. “The real goal is to keep people out of the hospital and the ICU and the morgue,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This vaccine will do that well.”
“A vaccine doesn’t have to be 95 percent effective to be an incredible leap forward,” said E. John Wherry, director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. He pointed out that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a simpler choice for rural areas.
“When we get to the point where we have choices about which vaccine to give, it will be a luxury to have to struggle with that question.”
2. You cannot compare vaccine data.
The data that Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech presented to the FDA for their vaccines came from large clinical trials that took place over the summer and early fall in the United States. At the time, there were no known new variants of coronavirus. In comparison, the J&J trial began in September and was administered to people in South America, South Africa, and the United States where the new strains had been active.
3. Time is not on our side.
Fighting COVID-19 begins with halting the spread of the virus. This is the only way mutations ceased from developing and people stop dying. The inadequate supply of vaccines and the chaos of administering them have been felt across the country. Before the nation will feel any sort of relief, we all need to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“There’s a downside to waiting,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Delaying vaccination carries serious risks, given that, as of Saturday, some 2,000 Americans were still dying each day of covid.
4. The latest Johnson & Johnson vaccine has real advantages.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine development appears to cause less serious side effects than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. High fever and dehydration are particular concerns in fragile elderly people who “have one foot on the banana peel,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, scientific director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program. The J&J vaccine “may be a better vaccine for the infirm.”
Another bonus of the J&J vaccine is that “it’s one and done,” Schaffner said. This helps relieve the administration side of things as only one appointment is needed.
5. Vaccines are becoming more accessible.
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept long-term in “ultra-cold” freezers at temperatures between minus 112 degrees and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines must be used or discarded within six hours after the vial is opened. Vials of the J&J vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator and restored for later use if doses remain. “Right now we have mass immunization clinics that are open but have no vaccine,” said Dr. Offit. “Here you have a single-dose regime with easy storage and handling.”