The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the FDA has signaled is effective and safe and will be shortly approved, could be a “difference maker” for New York City’s efforts to vaccinate the elderly.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine “will supercharge our effort,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at his press conference on Tuesday. The city hopes to vaccinate 5 million residents by June; Johnson & Johnson told Congress it intends to ship 20 million doses by the end of March.
City health officials do not yet know how many doses would be allocated to New York, said Dr. Jay Varma.
“If everything falls in line with what we anticipate it will show, which is that these vaccines, even with a single dose are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, then this is just great news,” said Dr. Varna, but he cautioned much remains uncertain. “[We’re] kind of at the whims of what the federal government is able to allocate to New York City specifically, as well as of course what the manufacturers can actually produce themselves.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66% effective, while Moderna and Pfizer are more than 90%. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine advantage is that it is only one dose and can be stored in regular refrigerators, making transpiration and distribution easier. In those vaccinated, there were no reported cases that led to hospitalization or deaths.
If the FDA approves it in an announcement on Friday, the vaccine can begin to shipped out to states.
For New York City, it will be a boost to the city’s efforts to vaccinate the elderly and those with disabilities in their apartments, rather than putting the pressure to get to appointments on homebound individuals and their aides.
“We’ve been working with a number of different agencies and clinicians who have the experience of already taking care of people in their homes—for example, home-based primary care clinicians as well as visiting nurses who already provide many healthcare services in people’s homes,” said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. Once the city has a system of storage and distribution, “we will be ready to very rapidly do the door-to-door or in-home vaccination for homebound seniors.”