J&J Vaccine Was Woman's 'Ticket Out of Hell'

She says her worries about it being less effective were soon eased
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2021 8:03 PM CDT
J&J Vaccine Was Woman's 'Ticket Out of Hell'
A health worker loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being made available to residents at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Some people—and, initially, even the mayor of Detroit—have been balking at getting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying they would prefer to wait until the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are available. To Michelle Goldberg, that's like refusing to board a flight out of hell because you want a seat with more legroom. Goldberg writes at the New York Times that she "more or less fell apart" emotionally over the last year and, "frantic for an escape hatch," found a place in a J&J vaccine trial. She was told this month that she was among the participants who were given a placebo, but she was "thrilled and grateful" when researchers offered her the real thing. Goldberg says Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, eased her concerns about the one-shot vaccine being less effective than others.

Goldberg says Jha told her any difference would be too "trivial and irrelevant" to worry about. She notes that the difference between the 95% effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine and the 66% of the J&J version in preventing symptomatic COVID sounds far from trivial, but Jha explained that much of the difference can be explained by the fact that some J&J trials took place in South Africa and Brazil, where COVID variants are circulating. None of the vaccinated trial participants in either country were hospitalized or died, providing strong evidence that the J&J vaccine is highly effective against severe outcomes with the variants. Goldberg says thanks to the vaccine, things like dinners with friends are now in sight. "My small personal hell has an expiration date," she writes. "According to the CDC, you’re fully vaccinated two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson shot. Jha said it’s really more like four. It already feels as if it’s saving my life." Click for the full piece. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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