PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate is authorized for emergency use, Rhode Island could start administrating the single-dose vaccine within weeks, according to state health officials.
Only a few million doses are expected to be ready to be shipped out in the first week if the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) clears the J&J shot for use.
R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole-Alexander Scott said Thursday federal partners informed the state if approved, Rhode Island would “likely get a first push of 9,000 doses,” and “could conceivably start administering this vaccine in two weeks or so,” provided the vaccine is cleared by the necessary federal and state entities.
Friday, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, an advisory committee to the FDA, is meeting in an open session to discuss an Emergency Use Authorization of the Janssen Biotech Inc. COVID-19 Vaccine in individuals 18 years and older.
An analysis released by the FDA Wednesday, which is typically made available no later than two business days before the meeting, showed Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine provides strong protection against severe COVID-19.
The report also confirmed overall, the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.
While that’s significantly less than the roughly 95% efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines authorized for emergency use, health officials say any vaccine approved is worth getting.
“They are safe, they are extremely effective, as we are showing with our decreases in hospitalizations, and it’s a way to help protect your household,” Dr. Alexander-Scott said Thursday.
Three Boston doctors sit on the committee, Dr. H. Cody Meissner from Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Eric Rubin from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dr. Ofer Levy from Boston Children’s Hospital.
The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days, which would be followed by recommendations by another advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting Sunday and Monday to discuss the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee is the final step before the vaccine would be authorized in the Ocean State.
An emergency meeting of the subcommittee has not yet been posted.