Vaccinate Dane LogoLast week the FDA authorized the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. This is a tremendous achievement that adds another life-saving vaccine to the two already authorized. This means we will be able to boost our vaccine supply and get more people protected from COVID even faster.

All three vaccines are safe and effective.

Creating vaccines that can chart our path out of this pandemic was an unprecedented effort among thousands of scientists, researchers, and medical experts. The fact that we have three vaccines—all created in such a short time period—that are all so effective, is a scientific achievement that cannot be overstated.

While the process to create the vaccines was fast, no safety steps were skipped. No matter which vaccine you’re given, you can rest assured knowing every study, every trial, and every phase was reviewed and approved by the FDA and a safety board.

Tens of thousands of people participated in vaccine trials to ensure they are safe and effective, and the vaccines have since been given to millions of people safely.

All three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

There has been a lot of news about how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has 72% efficacy compared to 95% among the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. That’s true for any type of infection. However, what we’re most concerned about is preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. The three vaccines all have nearly the same, very high efficacy for preventing these severe outcomes.

Researchers have noted it’s also difficult to compare the efficacy data between the three vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was given to people in different parts of the world at different time intervals. By the time the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was ready for testing, variants in the virus had already started circulating. When the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested, we hadn’t even started hearing about the new and emerging strains. It’s just not an apples to apples comparison.

Something else to keep in mind is that 72% efficacy for preventing any infection is still extraordinarily high! Many childhood vaccines have similar efficacy, and we don’t think twice about them doing their job. For example, one dose of the chickenpox vaccine is 82% effective at preventing any form of chickenpox. One dose of the MMR vaccine is 78% effective at preventing the mumps.

Want to read more about the similarities and differences among the vaccines? We like this explainer from Yale.

The simplicity of the Johnson & Johnson 1-dose makes it convenient.

While Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one, making it much easier on both vaccinators and people getting vaccinated. For people who are afraid of needles or have anxiety about getting immunized, it’s much easier to mentally prepare one time instead of two! While you cannot request a certain vaccine from a vaccinator at this time, you can check their website or call ahead to learn which vaccine is being offered.

If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only have to worry about making one appointment. This means you only have to take off work one time, drive to the vaccination site one time, and wait to be vaccinated one time.

People who receive Johnson & Johnson are also fully protected sooner. Protection is in place after about two weeks for all three vaccines. But if you’re receiving Pfizer or Moderna, that is two weeks after your second dose. If you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine tomorrow, you’re protected just two weeks later. For Pfizer, your protection would lock in in five weeks. For Moderna, it’d be six weeks.

The best vaccine you can get is the one you can get as soon as possible.

The bottom line is that the best vaccine you can get is the one you can get as soon as you’re eligible. Your vaccinator may only have one option. If you are dead set on a certain vaccine and your vaccinator isn’t offering it, you’ll have to sign up with someone else and be moved back to the bottom of their list.

The vaccine is the key to ending this pandemic and getting all of our lives back to normal and our local economy back on track. The sooner you can get vaccinated, the sooner you can give your grandparent a hug, meet up with friends, travel, and do the things you love and miss. You can do your part by vaccinating yourself and your family when it’s your turn.See current eligibility and options for where to get vaccinated on our website.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.