Editor’s note: On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a joint statement recommending a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because six people out of the more than 6.8 million to receive it have developed blood clots. In the meantime, the FDA will investigates those cases. Until that process is complete, the two agencies are “recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”
The array of vaccines available to reduce exposure to COVID-19 has grown, with an important new addition authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, authorized for emergency use on Feb. 27, differs from the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in important ways, though all three are considered highly effective and safe.
First, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered in just a single dose, while the other vaccines require that two doses be administered several weeks apart. That means with Johnson & Johnson, recipients are done and considered immune two weeks after receiving the single dose. And once someone is fully vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says it’s safe to:
- visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask
- visit indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
In addition, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require storage at freezing temperatures. This may make the vaccine especially adaptable to reaching rural and vulnerable communities, adding to the effort — driven by the availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — that has already resulted in more than 80 million people in the U.S. getting vaccinated.
“We are very fortunate that a year into the pandemic we have three vaccines that are both safe and effective against COVID-19,” said Dr. Annabelle de St. Maurice, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and UCLA Health’s co-chief infection prevention officer. “The approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is particularly exciting, since it does not require as extreme cold temperatures as the other two vaccines and is given as a single dose.”
This Q&A and video highlight information from UCLA Health experts about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
How effective is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is about 85% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness 28 days after vaccination.
How does it work?
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses what’s known as “viral vector” technology, which uses a harmless, inactivated cold virus to activate your body’s immune response to COVID-19.
Because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not contain a live virus, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
What else is different about it?
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not need to be transported frozen. This means it is easier to store and distribute.
UCLA Health experts encourage members of the UCLA community to get vaccinated with any of the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. as soon as you are able. It is our best shot to keep everyone safe, prevent the spread of the virus and pave the way for a robust return to campus.