Johnson & Johnson vaccine: The possible impact on Sedgwick County’s fight against COVID-19

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A third coronavirus vaccine could soon hit the U.S. market. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration researchers announced that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective and safe to use.

Later this week, an independent panel of advisors will discuss the vaccine and may approve Johnson & Johnson’s emergency use authorization request.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Sarah Lopez says the FDA’s research of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a hopeful sign.

“I think Johnson & Johnson is going to be huge — the efficacy rate isn’t quite as much as the other two, but I mean our flu effectiveness shots are like in the 40% usually — so, it’s much better than that.”

On the other hand, Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns has some reservations,

“In the scientific community, there’s some skepticism about whether one dose of the Johnson & Johnson is as good as the two-dose.”

Dr. Minns said one question is how long will the vaccine last?

“Does it provide long-term effectiveness? I think that’s the big concern right now. You’d hate to go through all this trouble getting all these people vaccinated to find out it only lasts for about three or four or five months — then they need another shot. Oh my gosh, isn’t it better to get the two-shot upfront,” he said.

Research shows the one dose is 72% effective in the U.S. and 85% effective in preventing severe disease. Currently, Sedgwick County is getting about 7,000 vaccine doses a week.

If given authorization for emergency use, it could be a possible option to fight Covid in Sedgwick County.

“That’s going to be such an improvement just really being able to bring in more vaccines faster,” Lopez said.

Lopez said there are plans ready in case the county receives a surge in vaccines.

“We could utilize the baseball park and do up to 50,000 a day if we had a big event – we just need to get them in that is the only thing that’s holding us back.”

Sedgwick County does not know how many doses it would receive if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved. Regardless, Commissioner Lopez says they need all the help they can get that goes for vaccines and volunteers.

For the latest COVID-19 information in Sedgwick County, click here.

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