Rachel Presti, MD, PhD, an infectious diseases physician who led Washington University School of Medicine’s participation in the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine trial, encourages the public to take the first vaccine available to them.
The clinical research team tested the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine over several months, including late last year, when the St. Louis region saw massive spikes in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“Studies from that trial show the vaccine is effective,” Presti said. “The trials were done during the largest peak of COVID-19 that we’ve seen thus far, and the numbers are comparable with Pfizer and Moderna’s effectiveness.
“The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine has good data showing that it will prevent you from getting sicker, it will prevent you from being hospitalized, and it prevents you from dying from COVID-19,” she explained.
Should I choose one manufacturer over another?
“Whatever vaccine the different community locations offer, take it,” Presti said. “All three vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. — Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, Pfizer and Moderna — have been shown to provide safe and highly effective protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.”
Presti said the addition of the third vaccine will make it possible to get more people vaccinated and quicken our return to normal. In addition to efficacy, the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine offers added convenience in storage, handling and single-dosing requirements, which will provide additional and more accessible vaccination delivery options.
She said being part of the study was a rewarding experience and that she would have been happy to have been part of any of the vaccine studies that took place. “I felt we were doing something to address the pandemic,” she said. “And I’m glad the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is now available in our community.”
Keep wearing masks, sanitizing hands, keeping safe distances
Presti noted that the clinical trials also showed the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine to be as safe as the other two available vaccines. “I know some are worried about how quickly these vaccines became available,” she said. “There is so much data out there to show they are safe and very well-tested.”
But she cautioned that — whether you’re vaccinated or not — the safety measures you take on a daily basis remain just as important as ever.
“We still have to be careful moving forward by wearing masks, staying socially distanced from others and hand sanitizing,” Presti noted. “But it is exciting to think about getting past this pandemic and, hopefully, to a little more normalcy in our lives.”