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Distribution begins for 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 7:05 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new COVID-19 vaccine is available with more doses soon shipping to Kansas. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine received emergency-use approval over the weekend. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s office said the state should receive more than 23,000 doses this week, but with these doses come questions about how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine differs from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which have been administered since December.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is less effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, but like the flu vaccine, it’s goal is to prevent more severe infections, which experts say it does do very well. The question many may ask is, if Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 95 percent effective, why get the Johnson & Johnson shot that was shown to be about 72 percent effective in U.S. trials?

First, you need to take a look at how the vaccine works. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses adenovrius, the same that causes colds, but this one is different because it is modified. It can’t replicate inside of us and make us sick and it tells our cells how to make the spike protein coronavirus uses to infect us. Once our bodies have made some of those, our immune systems recognize them as foreign and dangerous, so it gets busy making the antibodies needed to fight the coronavirus.

This is similar to how Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work, but it’s a different delivery system. And while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may help to prevent COVID-19 infection altogether, researchers say it’s stronger in keeping any infection that does occur from becoming severe. Plus, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored longer, doesn’t require super cold temperatures for storage and only takes one shot where as those getting Pfizer or Moderna vaccines need two shots, spread out.

While Kansas is getting some of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we don’t know exactly where it will go. Sedgwick County’s health director said Sedgwick County won’t get any of the 23,000 doses this week. Health experts say to get a vaccine when you can, no matter which of the three it is because getting any of them gets us closer to reaching herd immunity and closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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