BOSTON — The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson shot arrived at hospitals in Massachusetts on Tuesday. With injections starting later this week, doctors expect to be questioned by patients about the differences between this latest vaccine and those from Moderna and Pfizer.
Before booking an appointment, here’s your chance to see how much you know about it as we play Fact vs. Fiction.
Question #1: The only difference between Johnson & Johnson vs Moderna and Pfizer is J&J only requires one shot.
This is Fiction.
“First of all, it’s a different mechanism right in terms of how the vaccine was developed,” said Julita Mir, Chief Medical Officer of Community Care Cooperative. “There is some more flexibility in terms of the storage. and the temperatures that are required. Other than that really, we’re not seeing a lot of different side effect profiles or major allergies.”
Question #2: You may have heard the J&J vaccine has a virus inside it.
This is fact. But before you jump to any conclusions, doctors want you to know it’s not a live virus, but a genetically altered one.
“They use a virus that’s called adenovirus which is a well-known virus,” said Dr. Mir. “It’s not a live virus at all. So it cannot cause disease when injected into the person so different mechanism, but still, something is used as a transport to elicit an immune response from the body.”
Dr. Mir says all 3 vaccines essentially do the same thing, but instead of the Adenovirus, J&J uses messenger RNA.
She says in the development, they simply chose different approaches to telling the body to create an immune response.
Question #3: We’re sure you’ve heard by now the J&J vaccine is not as effective as Moderna and Pfizer.
This is both fact and fiction.
It’s less effective in preventing COVID symptoms, but as far as death and severe illness it’s just as effective.
“Especially in the studies done here in the U.S., the efficacy was fairly high, so the CDC is recommending that we don’t pick and choose based on individual numbers,” said Dr. Mir. “Let’s not get caught up with one vaccine is 95 percent effective in the other vaccine is 80-something percent effective. What we want is vaccines that protect us from death and from moderate and severe illness.”
While doctors work to clear up that perception, they realize that’s causing issues with advocacy groups wanting certain populations to get J&J. This makes how it’s distributed a tough decision for the state.
“On one end, it is probably the perfect vaccine for those individuals who are hard to reach right individuals who might live in remote areas or who are homebound individuals who are homeless,” she said. “On the other hand, I read some of the folks who may be advocating that it may give a sense that we’re using the vaccine that’s less effective with vulnerable groups.”
Question #4: Just because there is a third vaccine out, doctors say we still need to use masks and practice social distancing and hand: Fact or Fiction.
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