President Joe Biden, joined by Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci ( Photo by Adam Schultz)

The White House will distribute 3.9 million doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. 

Over the weekend, the CDC and FDA approved the new Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization. It is now the United State’s third vaccine in the fight against the pandemic. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested in countries across the world and found to be 85% effective globally. In the U.S it was 72% effective in stopping moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. There were no recorded hospitalizations or deaths in any of the studies, according to the White House COVID Response Team. The high percentage of efficacy indicates that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also protects against some of the new emerging variants, Fauci said during a press conference on Monday. 

Flexibility 

With the approval of the vaccine, the White House will distribute 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to states, tribes and territories. This is the entirety of the company’s supply. After this week there will be a delay before the company delivers its promised 16 million doses by the end of March, Jeff Zients said. 

Compared to Moderna and Pfizer’s double-shot vaccines that must be kept in sub-zero temperatures, Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine does not need to be kept in a freezer easing transportation and storing restrictions, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. This will expand the number of locations and pharmacies able to store and administer the vaccine.

“This will make it easier to provide vaccines in more community settings and mobile sites as supplies scale-up,” Dr. Walensky said. “Having multiple types of vaccine available, especially ones with different dosing regimens and different storing and handling, offers more flexibility.”

COVID Cases Flatlined 

While the new vaccine provides some hope for an end to this pandemic, the decline of cases in the U.S is starting to level-off at an average of approximately 70,000 cases and 2,000 deaths a day. The latest seven-day average cases and deaths increased by slightly over 2%.

As states start to relax COVID-19 restrictions and American people start to tire of social distancing and masking, the cases are no longer declining. While the country awaits mass vaccination of the American public, the White House is urging states to adhere to guidelines to reduce the spread and save lives, Dr. Walensky said. 

“Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close,” Dr. Walensky said. “We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country.”

Get the First Vaccine Available

To stop the spread of COVID-19, vaccines are essential. The White House is advising Americans to get vaccinated as soon as one is available to them no matter which company the vaccine is from. While some may want to take one vaccine over another, all three are effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 and getting vaccinated saves lives. 

“If I could leave people with one message, it is this: get vaccinated with the first vaccine available to you,” Dr. Nunez-Smith said. “Protect yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19.”