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Utahns Wonder About Vaccine Choice As J&J Vaccine Nears Approval

MURRAY, UtahAs Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine took another step toward emergency use authorization Wednesday, some Utahns are wondering if they can pick and choose which vaccine they receive.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration documents released Wednesday show Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is overall safe and highly effective against severe and critical illness.

A panel of independent advisors to the FDA is slated to scrutinize the company’s application for emergency use on Friday and it could be available for distribution as early as next week.

Some KSL TV viewers have wondered, “If it’s not as effective as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, do I want it?”

Marnee Miller, a mother of four in Salt Lake County, posted on the KSL TV Facebook page that she has feared the virus for a year, worried about her family and herself. She would like to get the most effective vaccine available.

“The fear seems almost crippling. I spend my day consumed by it,” Miller said of the virus. “I haven’t always been the healthiest person. I try. And, it’s just built, and built because things have gotten worse, and I’ve always had anxiety.”

Understandably, she wants to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“I don’t want to be in the hospital or lose my life because of it,” she said.

Like many of us, she wants to know whether she will be able to choose the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, both are rated roughly 10% more effective. She wants to make sure it’s going to work.

“Because of the fear I have, illogical or not, I feel like I would want to be able to choose the most efficient vaccine,” Miller said.

Officials with the Utah Department of Health have said most Utahns will be offered whatever vaccine is available at the time and location they are eligible.

“I do want to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Miller said. “But I am hesitant to get one that isn’t as effective.”

Fortunately, Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said we should not worry about that.

”All of the options are good options,” he said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a modestly lower efficacy rate compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, around 85% compared to 95%.

“But it’s still excellent, compared to other vaccines,” Webb said. “And it’s a vaccine that we don’t hesitate one bit in recommending.”

He said doctors at Intermountain are not recommending one over another.

“In our community effort to get back to normal the answer to that is: any of the available options are good options,” he said.

When our eligibility arrives, he said, get the vaccine, whichever is available.

“Clinically speaking, I would recommend any of the three for patients for whom it’s available.”

Miller said she will get whatever vaccine her doctor recommends.

“But, I would prefer to know that there’s more coverage,” she said.

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