Answers to questions about new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine
3/4/2021, 6 p.m.
With 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson, single-dose COVID-19 vaccine scheduled to be distributed throughout Virginia this week, the Richmond Free Press sought answers to questions about the newest vaccine that was granted emergency use authorization last Saturday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be offered free to the public.
Q: How effective is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
A: Studies have shown the vaccine is about 66 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 and about 85 percent effective against the most serious illness.
Q: How long will it take for the vaccine to protect me from COVID-19?
A: Current estimates from Johnson & Johnson say that it takes about 29 days for immunity to take full effect. This is faster than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which take five and six weeks, respectively, to reach peak immunity after the first dose. It also has been shown to be very effective against the COVID-19 variants that have emerged.
Q: Can I choose which of the available vaccines I can receive?
A: No, but the Virginia Department of Health is encouraging all providers who schedule vaccine appointments to advise individuals on which vaccine they’ll receive.
Q: What side effects are possible from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
A: Some temporary side effects have been reported after vaccination, including arm pain and redness at the injection site, fatigue, headaches and muscle aches.
Q: How long will immunity last?
A: Like all of the COVID-19 vaccines, it’s unclear. Scientific research into the vaccine continues at this time, with some speculation that annual booster shots may be needed to respond to new COVID mutations.
Q:How many doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being distributed to Virginia?
A: Virginia expects to receive 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.
Q: How will state and local health departments distribute it?
A: The Virginia Department of Health is prioritizing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for mass vaccination clinics and events statewide.
Q: Will pharmacies receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
A: Pharmacies participating in the federal vaccination partnership are expected to receive doses to aid in vaccinating priority groups such as people age 65 and older, but it isn’t clear when pharmacies will receive the vaccine or how many doses.
Q: Do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance after getting the vaccine?
A: Yes. While the vaccine may prevent you from getting COVID-19, health officials aren’t sure if the vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus to someone else. Until more information is known, health officials urge those inoculated to continue the routine COVID-19 precautions of hand washing, wearing a mask and social distancing.
Q: How can I get a vaccine?
A: Pre-register through the Virginia Depart- ment of Health at vaccinate.virginia.gov or call toll free at (877) VAX-IN-VA, or (877) 829-4682, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Language translation is available. TTY users can dial 711. Pharmacies in Virginia that are administering the vaccine will now be using the state health department information for registering appointments as well. Other registration options may be available depending on your locality.
Sources: Virginia Department of Health, federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Johnson & Johnson.