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Next COVID-19 vaccine set for approval will be game-changer, says Hawaii lieutenant governor

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON) — Hawaii health officials are optimistic about getting more people vaccinated in the coming weeks. A new vaccine expected to get approval requires only one dose.

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green calls the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a game-changer. It does not just add more to the supply chain — because only one shot is needed — it speeds up the process.

“A lot of the work right now that’s going into the vaccination program is coordination, just having your first shot and then three weeks later your second shot for Pfizer, or four weeks later for Moderna. Just having one shot and you’re done, I think that’s gonna be very appealing to a lot of people,” said Green.

He said test results show that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might not be as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have rates of 90% to 95%. However, Green said, even if it is 70% to 80% effective, it’s still good enough.

“Because right now, the first shot alone of the Pfizer or Moderna only gives you about 50% to 55% of immunity. So this could be a breakthrough for us. Again, just having to do one shot really simplifies things,” said Green.

He said FDA approval probably will not happen until March, but it will go a long way in Hawaii’s efforts to ramp up vaccination with the next group, 1-C, which includes people 65 to 74 years old. It will also appeal to many others in the general public because it is more convenient.

“A lot of younger people may decide to take this because it’s a little bit more expedient, because you only have one shot and they’re very low risk anyway,” said Green.

Some health experts on the mainland are recommending people wear two masks with more contagious variants of COVID-19 found elsewhere. State officials say they have not found any of those variants, and Green said wearing two masks is not necessary.

“One mask has been sufficient to prevent the spread by a large margin. I mean really, it’s very effective, if both people are wearing a mask opposite one another, you’re not gonna see the spread of COVID,” he said.

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