Oregon, along with the three other members of the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup tasked with reviewing Covid-19 vaccines to ensure safety, has approved the third vaccine produced by American pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson for emergency use.
In a press release, Governor Kate Brown and the three other state leaders said the group completed its review of the new vaccine Tuesday night, determining it is safe and effective.
The J&J vaccine is the third immunization for the novel coronavirus to be sanctioned in Oregon. However, unlike the first vaccine produced by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson’s does not have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures (although the FDA recently relaxed its guidelines in that regard).
And, most critically, the new vaccine requires only a single dose. Both therapies previously approved for emergency public use required two doses for full efficacy.
At least 34,000 doses of the new immunization are expected to be delivered to Oregon later this week, Brown said.
“After thorough scientific review by doctors and health experts, we now have three safe and effective vaccines available for Oregonians,” the governor said in the joint statement. “And, because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators and vaccinate individuals in a single dose, it gives us the ability to vaccinate even more people.
“We will work to distribute vaccines as quickly and equitably as possible as we move forward to vaccinate seniors, people with underlying health conditions, frontline workers, and all Oregonians.”
Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October. The workgroup, made up of nationally acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health, has concurrently and independently reviewed the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
It will continue to evaluate other Covid-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.
It’s not clear if the news will move up the schedule announced by Brown last month, which had targeted July 1 as the date by which the vaccine would be available to all adults who want to take it.
The United States had been following a similar schedule until this week, when President Joe Biden moved the country’s timeline ahead two months because of the additional supplies promised by Johnson & Johnson.
To date, Oregon has distributed almost 1 million doses of Covid vaccine, with more than 636,000 Oregonians having received at least the first of the two-shot series.
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