Feb. 28 (UPI) — A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted unanimously Sunday to recommend the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 single-shot vaccine for people 18 and older.
During an emergency session, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices strongly endorsed the vaccine’s effectiveness in completely protecting against hospitalization and death.
After CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walansky accepts the adviser’s recommendation, the federal government will be able to begin shipping doses, making a third COVID-19 vaccine available in the United States as early as this week.
On Friday, Walensky said that she would stand by to review the recommendation and be “ready to sign.”
The vote comes after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Saturday.
The new vaccine has a lower efficacy rate — 66% overall and 72% in the United States in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 — than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already in use.
Johnson & Johnson has said only a few million doses will be shipped to states in the days immediately after authorization, but production is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks, with 20 million doses due to be delivered by the end of March and 100 million total in the first half of the year.
A spokesman for Janssen Biotech, the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that is manufacturing the vaccine, also confirmed to The New York Times that it will begin expanded trials for the vaccine on infants, newborns, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can be kept at normal refrigerator temperatures. Pfizer’s vaccine had been stored and shipped at between minus 112 Fahrenheit to minus 76 though the FDA now says it can be held for two weeks at normal freezer temperatures. Moderna’s is kept in a home freezer.