Melanie Swift, M.D., COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution: We now have three vaccines authorized for emergency use. Two of them, the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, are both messenger RNA vaccines, and then we now have a third one from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Company, which is a different format, it is an adenovirus vector vaccine.

Adenovirus vaccines are not really new. We have already used them for things like the Ebola vaccine. An adenovirus vaccine is a virus that has been altered so that it can't make you sick, it can't replicate, and it has a special bit of genetic code that has been inserted into it that in this case causes your body to make the spike protein.

There are the typical side effects that we see from all vaccines, the injection site be red, it can be sore, you can have a little fever for one to two days after, you can feel muscle aches and you can feel tired and a little headache. That's really it, and the nice thing about it is that because it's only one dose, the amount of side effects that people have and their severity is very, very small. When we take a second dose of the same vaccine, we tend to have more of an immune reaction and more side effects, so people will actually get fewer side effects cumulatively over the series with this Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it's only one dose.

What people should know about this is that it is a very effective vaccine. We already had two highly effective vaccines on the market, so people try to compare them, but you really can't compare them. They were studied in different places at different times, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was studied in places where there were a lot of the new variant strains coming out, but it's still showed very high effectiveness, 85% at preventing severe COVID-19 and there were no deaths in the vaccine group who received the real vaccine. That is, that's just phenomenal.

People really should take whichever vaccine is available to them. They are all really highly effective. The upside of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is it's only one dose. You need to wait two weeks to get the full benefit of the vaccine. Even then, we still have COVID-19 circulating in the community. We don't have widespread immunity yet, so we do still need to practice our masking and social distancing for now.

March 17, 2021