Gov. Kate Brown got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on March 6, a week after the vaccine won emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
It was a reversal of her previous decision not to get a shot before it was her turn in the state's prioritization. But on March 6, she cited the need to allay concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"There have been a number of rumors and misinformation about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since its approval by the FDA," she said in a statement. "It was important to me to demonstrate today that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective."
The governor's statement did not specify what "rumors or misinformation" she was responding to, but Brown's office referred WW to a National Public Radio story on the impact of misinterpreting efficacy data on the vaccine.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine had lower efficacy in trials at preventing symptomatic infection than either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. But all three are considered highly effective, and a comparison of their effectiveness is difficult because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested late in the pandemic, after and in locations where the more contagious variants of the virus had arisen.
Johnson & Johnson requires only a single dose and does not need deep-cold storage, which will make it possible to get more people vaccinated more easily and quickly.
Oregon Health Authority officials have said the single-dose option will be useful for inoculating harder-to-serve populations, including homebound seniors, residents of adult foster care, and farmworkers, among others, who may have logistical difficulties returning for a second shot.
But the perception problem—that more vulnerable populations will be given a less effective vaccine—is great enough that the mayor of Detroit recently refused a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
At the same time, Oregonians are jumping at the chance to get the Johnson & Johnson shot. Hundreds of appointment slots to get it at a Safeway clinic in Tigard this week were quickly snapped up on Saturday, KGW reported.
And critics of the governor's timeline for who gets the vaccine and when also slammed her decision to get vaccinated now.
"We're disappointed to see Gov. Brown jump herself ahead of all grocery workers and pharmacy techs who will be waiting months before they become eligible, some of whom will be helping administer vaccines until that point," says Dan Clay, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555. "We are hoping she reconsiders the current prioritization order and moves these essential workers, who daily face the public, forward."
Hospital-based pharmacy techs were covered by the first round of vaccinations, but the union says not all techs were covered.