COLUMBIA - The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, but some questions still remain.

White House officials said that vaccination distribution centers will begin receiving nearly 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting Tuesday. They also said that 20 million doses will be distributed by the end of March.

The state is expecting to receive around 50,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced Sunday night.

The 50,000 doses will be split among vaccination sites and local providers.

  • 5,000 distributed to targeted vaccination sites in St. Louis & Kansas City
  • 10,000 distributed to regional mass vaccination events
  • 35,000 distributed to community providers that were not allocated Moderna or Pfizer this week

Parson says this will allow local providers to determine the "most appropriate use for a single-dose regimen in their communities."

State health director, Dr. Randall Williams, says the shots can start as soon as the doses arrive. 

Missouri will move into Phase 1B - Tier 3 on March 15, which will start vaccinating the critical infrastructure, such as teachers, government workers and child care providers.

Early studies show that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 72% effective in the nation at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and death.

“The best COVID-19 vaccine you can get is the one you are able to get the soonest after becoming eligible,” Dr. Williams said. “The scientific evidence shows that the Janssen (J&J) vaccine does a great job at preventing hospitalizations and deaths which is the main goal for COVID-19 vaccines.”

In comparison, the annual flu vaccine tends to be between 40 to 60% effective at preventing severe illness from year to year.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have effectiveness rates near 95%, health officials say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not be directly compared, as the dose is only a single shot.

[The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has] been found to be extremely effective in keeping people out of the hospital and avoiding the most extreme complication of COVID, which is death," Boone Hospital Center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robin Blount said. "It is extremely effective in, you know, helping people avoid severe illness."

Unlike the other two approved vaccines, the J&J vaccine can be stored in a regular refrigerator for up to three months and should make the distribution of the vaccine much easier.

Now that a third vaccine has been approved, people now have another option on their radar. 

"I think that it's so important that we increase the herd immunity, and we get vaccinated," Dr. Blount said. "I say take the vaccine you can get and this just makes it even more available."

Boone Hospital Center officials said the hospital is set to receive 1,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine at some point this week. Other hospitals are waiting to hear how many doses will arrive. 

Despite Governor Mike Parson implementing a residency clause, where those receiving vaccines must be Missouri residents, the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services said if someone lives or works in the county, the vaccine is available, as long as you fall under current eligible tiers.

It is still unclear as to whether or not the health department will be actively trying to verify patient residency at vaccination sites.

Boone County has previously included college students in COVID-19 case data, and said students will be included in vaccinations when they become eligible.

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