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Western states workgroup clears Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Following the authorization of the vaccine by a workgroup, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now approved for use in Washington.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Washington state, following the authorization by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

The authorization follows an initial authorization by the FDA and CDC.

“The Workgroup’s authorization gives us further confidence around the safety and efficacy of the J & J vaccine,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Like the other two, this vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness from COVID-19, which is critical in our fight against this deadly virus.

"With the delivery of the J & J vaccine this week, and overall increase in the number of vaccine doses coming to Washington, we have increased our capacity to get vaccine to all parts of the state. We are making good progress on vaccination rates, and this third vaccine will help our efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

After the FDA approved the vaccine over the weekend, a National Vaccine Advisory Committee member from Washington state said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be available in Washington in a "few weeks." The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said Tuesday the new vaccine could come to Pierce County as early as next week.

The new Johnson & Johnson vaccine differs from the Pfizer and Moderna ones by only needing one dose instead of two, not as complex refrigeration and different technology.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to be 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, according to data from clinical trials, compared to about 95 percent for Moderna and Pfizer. Current data from vaccines available so far – Johnson & Johnson included – indicate all are virtually 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

Doctors say eligible people should not be picky about which vaccine they receive due to limited amounts at this time.