FDA greenlights Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine late Saturday.

The decision paves the way for more than 60,000 of the one-shot doses to be sent to our state as early as next week.

An estimated 2,750 people got their two-dose Pfizer vaccine Saturday at another mass vaccination clinic in Seattle. Everyone there, it seems, has a story about what it took to get the shot. The hope is that this new vaccine will make the process a lot easier.

It is hard to tell from a distance how precious this moment is: hundreds of people getting a vaccine courtesy of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and technology giant Amazon.

Robert Jacobs of Burien says he searched for weeks.

“Yeah, I just couldn’t find anybody that had the vaccination,” he said.

It is only when you zoom in that you find out what a struggle it was to get here.

Jacobs described his journey.

“Well, I signed up at Swedish,” he said. “And I kept checking there. I signed up for this one. And they finally emailed me on Thursday and told me they had something.”

“The demand right now is greatly exceeding the vaccine,” said University of Washington Medicine’s Dr. Deborah Fuller.

She spoke just as the Food and Drug Administration was granting emergency use authorization to a third coronavirus vaccine, the single-dose Johnson and Johnson.

“I think that’s really important to add another vaccine to our mix of candidates that are going to be available,” said Fuller.

Moreover, she says concerns that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine isn’t as effective as the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are overblown. All three vaccines are alike in the ways that matter, she insists, as they prevent severe disease and death.

“People always ask me, ‘Which one would you take?’” said Dr. Fuller. “And I always say, ‘I will take the first one that is offered to me.’ I want that protection as soon as possible.”

Robert Jacobs finally got his shot.

“And I’m really happy that all these volunteers here,” marveled Jacobs. “I think it’s awesome that they gave up their Saturday on the one day it’s sunny to be here. That’s a real sacrifice in Seattle.”

For anyone who has trouble understanding English, Virginia Mason is making available a portable green machine that connects to real people translating the languages spoken in the Puget Sound region.

There is no word yet when the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be available here.