SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The U.S. will get a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration approved a Johnson & Johnson shot.
Health experts say the J & J vaccine is a game changer in the fight against COVID-19.
It works with just one dose instead of two.
"This is another tool, another weapon, that we have to fight the coronavirus, to get life back to normal, and help save lives in the community," says Dr. Scott Robertson at Marian Regional Medical Center.
Doctors at Marian and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Centers say there’s an advantage in the handling of this new vaccine.
"One of the reasons that the J & J vaccine is so different is that it only requires a general refrigeration storage. This is different than the two mRNA vaccines that we have from Pfizer and Maderna," says Robertson.
Marian doctors say one of the challenges has been the uncertainty in the quantity of the vaccine supply.
"We can be vaccinating many more Central Coast residents if we had more vaccine here locally," says Robertson.
Several million doses of J & J is expected to be shipped to the states in the next week.
"So having another producer of vaccines should help. We expect the state of California this week to receive nearly 400,000 doses of the J & J vaccine," says Robertson.
While it’s not yet clear how many doses will be coming to the Central Coast, health experts in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties expect the supply to increase.
"My concern is making sure everyone who wants to be vaccinated gets vaccinated as soon as they can, especially before next fall and the next holiday season, which is when San Luis Obispo County seems to have the highest spikes so far," says Infection Preventionist Chris Ecker at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.
"Our goal is to keep people out of the hospital, and to keep people dying from COVID-19. All signs point to the J & J vaccine being just as effective as the prior two vaccines on the market," says Robertson.
According to the FDA, J & J’s vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
J & J expects to ship 100 million doses by this summer.