CORONAVIRUS, Government, Oregon

FDA approves Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine for emergency use

Ansu Drammeh, R.N., a cardiovascular intensive care nurse at OHSU, is given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, December 16 by Ryan Thrower, D.M.D., who, according to OHSU, is the first dental resident in the United States to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use Saturday, adding a third vaccine to the U.S. effort to combat the novel coronavirus.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just a single shot. In clinical trials in the U.S., the vaccine boasted a 72% efficacy rate, lower than the first two vaccines, but still well above benchmarks set by the FDA. 

“Don’t get caught up, necessarily, on the number game, because it’s a really good vaccine, and what we need is as many good vaccines as possible,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview on Saturday, according to the New York Times. “Rather than parsing the difference between 94 and 72, accept the fact that now you have three highly effective vaccines. Period.”

The approval of the vaccine is good news for the vaccine distribution schedule unveiled on Friday by Oregon Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority. 

Those seeking more information on vaccination can dial 211 or visit the state’s vaccine information portal at

Under state projections, it’s believed that Oregon will have enough vaccines to open vaccinations for all Oregonians 16 and older no later than July 1, 2021. 

“By summer, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it,” said Governor Brown during a Friday press conference. “And while that gives us all a reason to breathe a sigh of relief, it should also serve as a reminder that the finish line is in sight, and we cannot let up.”

“New variants of this virus still threaten our communities. While infection rates continue to plummet here in Oregon and across the country, we’re not out of the woods just yet. We must continue to make smart choices around the safety measures we know work: keep wearing your masks, physical distancing and limiting social gatherings,” Brown said. 

Under the governor’s timeline, the rollout of the vaccine in Oregon will continue in a phased manner. Currently, frontline healthcare workers, seniors in congregate care homes, those housed in Oregon’s jails and prisons, educators and school staff, and seniors age 70 and over are eligible for the vaccine, among others. 

On Monday, March 1, those age 65 and older will become eligible for a vaccine.

No later than March 29, the state plans to allow vaccination of adults aged 45 – 64 with one or more underlying health conditions, as largely defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state did not entirely follow federal standards, instead opting to exclude smokers from the list of those at higher risk. According to the OHA, one or more of the following conditions would allow a person aged 45 – 64 to be eligible for a vaccine:

— Cancer

— Chronic kidney disease


— Down Syndrome

— Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies

— Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant or HIV 

— Obesity, defined in this case by the OHA as a BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2

— Pregnancy

— Sickle cell disease

— Type 2 diabetes mellitus

This date would also see migrant and seasonal farm workers, those working in the seafood, agricultural, food processing, and wildland firefighting industries become eligible. People living in low-income senior housing, senior congregant and independent living, those experiencing homelessness, and those displaced by wildfires would also be eligible. 

May 1 would bring a new wave of eligibility, allowing CDC-defined frontline workers to get the vaccine, multigenerational household members, and those aged 16 – 44 with one or more of the aforementioned underlying health conditions.  

June 1 would open vaccination up to the general public for those aged 45 to 64, and then follow that up with another wave on July 1 for all Oregonians aged 16 and older. 

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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