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Vaccine shopping: Students share thoughts on vaccine availability

By Elliott Nyugen 
Staff Writer

With the recent emergency approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there are now large amounts of vaccine doses available to the U.S. 

President Biden announced on Twitter that there will be enough for every American to be vaccinated by the end of May.

Based on existing trials, the new J&J vaccine has an efficacy ranging from 66.3% to 85%, due to the different regions in which it was tested as well as various testing criteria. This may make it appear less effective than the more established two-dose vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, which boast efficacy ratings of 95% and 94.1% respectively. However, many sources claim different numbers of efficacy when it comes to the various vaccines. 

However, the CDC states that all of these vaccines were very effective at preventing Covid-19 hospitalizations. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, though less effective, is administered through a much swifter process. It requires only a single dose and takes two weeks to become most effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines take longer. The Pfizer vaccine requires a three week wait period between doses, while the Moderna vaccine necessitates a month. The vaccines become most effective two weeks after the second dose.

This leaves many who wish to be vaccinated with a decision: get vaccinated as quickly as possible with Johnson & Johnson, or undergo a much longer process but receive more robust protection.

Some students shared their thoughts on the different vaccines and their rollouts.

“I don’t like how they have the general population waiting for this long,” said Samhita Narendrula, a junior biology major at the College. “I know some states that have vaccines available but fewer people willing to take it, so why can’t N.J. get more vaccines since they are high in demand?”

She added, “I would get the Johnson and Johnson one if I could since it’s only one shot.”

Frank Fabiano, a senior history secondary education major, felt differently about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

With new options and information about vaccines, students have heard contrasting information regarding effectiveness and availability of different shots (Envato Elements).

“I’ve just been hearing that the Johnson & Johnson one isn’t as effective? Not sure if that’s true, but if it is, I wouldn’t prefer it,” he said. 

In trials in countries where variant strains were dominant, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine performed comparably to how it fared against the main Covid-19 strain, according to CNBC.

However, comparing the three vaccines directly is difficult because of their many differences. First off, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both use mRNA to help the body create antibodies, whereas the Johnson & Johnson is a vector vaccine.

Another significant difference between the vaccines is the circumstances of their testing, according to PBS. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested more recently, and in several different countries such as the U.S., South Africa and Mexico. In some of the regions where testing took place, new strains of the virus have already been circulating, and so there is more information available to assess how this vaccine performs against them.

Additionally, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was especially evaluated for protection against “moderate to severe Covid illness” whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were assessed based on their ability to prevent infection in general.

Regardless, all three vaccines provide reliable protection against the virus and those with the opportunity to be vaccinated should not pass it up simply because of a preference for one of the other types.

In response to the new strains, Pfizer and Moderna have considered adding a third dose or booster shots to their vaccines. However, none of these changes, planned or otherwise, have been implemented into the vaccines already produced for the public.

Fabiano also commented on the availability of vaccines and information about them.

“I feel like younger people really have the advantage to sign up because we are more tech savvy, so some elderly people who don’t know how to use a computer or the internet… can’t access the online appointment booking,” Fabiano said. “It’s all controlled differently based on location, store, pharmacy etc.”

He added that he himself has experienced difficulty acquiring a vaccination appointment.

“I’ve been registered through the state but can’t seem to get one even though I’m eligible. I’ve tried everywhere,” he said. “But I know I will get one at some point and people need it more than I do so it’s alright.”

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