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Wisconsin Health Official Says Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Is In 'Very Normal Range' For Effectiveness

Timothy D. Easley
Getty Images
An employee with the McKesson Corporation scans a box of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine as she fills an order at their shipping facility on March 1 in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

Around 47,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Wisconsin next week. While health officials are pushing the positives of the vaccine — it’s only one dose versus two and the fact that it can be shipped anywhere because it only requires refrigeration and not ultra-cold storage — some people have concerns.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be at most 72% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. That’s compared to around 95% for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said people shouldn’t have any concerns about the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“There are vaccines that are closer to 70%. There are vaccines that are 90+%. So this is a very normal range for vaccinations. And honestly, if J&J had come out first with that kind of effectiveness, we all would have been blown away, we would have been thrilled for it,” she said Tuesday.

Despite the concerns of the general public, Willems Van Dijk said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a game changer.

“Having more doses available to us means that we can vaccinate more people. And the more people who get vaccinated, the safer we all are,” she said.

When asked about whether people who get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now could later get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine when they are more readily available, Willems Van Dijk said that’s a question for the Centers for Disease Control.

She said Wisconsin is in a race to get people vaccinated before COVID-19 variants take hold here.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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