The FDA is expected to quickly follow the recommendation and make J&J’s shot the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S.By Dr. Maria Simbra

WASHINGTON (KDKA) – U.S. health advisers have endorsed a one-dose coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

“When we get it, it will be such a game-changer,” said Dr. Randolph Peters, a primary care internist at the Allegheny Health Network. “It will be given in a very specific way in the population it is best suited for.”

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The single-shot option can be stored in the refrigerator.

“At some point in the future, every doctor should be getting this in their office,” Dr. Peters said.

It would add to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already authorized.

“We need a lot of doses of vaccine so getting more doses on line would be great,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, an infectious diseases physician at UPMC. “The more the merrier right now.”

“You have the other manufacturers ramping up as well. So we’re starting to look pretty good for the next few months to get a really high proportion of the population immunized,” Dr. Harrison added.

The committee of health advisers had questions Friday about how to assess immunity against emerging variants, but at the moment, “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does seem to work against the variants,” Dr. Harrison said.

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Ongoing safety monitoring came up. Of note, among 159 immunized pregnant women, 29 had miscarriages, but this was the same as the baseline frequency in the population.

“So far, for all of the COVID vaccines, there’s been no signal of a safety concern,” Dr. Harrison said.

Johnson & Johnson plans additional studies, looking at children, pregnancy and immunocompromised people, as well as whether two doses work better.

“It’s conceivable that for some people, a single dose will be considered to be adequate. For others, depending on what the results show, it’s possible a that two-dose regimen would be best,” said Dr. Harrison.

But don’t wait on this one just because it’s a single shot.

“We still have to get it in. If you have access to a vaccine, get it,” Dr. Peters said.

Eventually, all of the authorized vaccines will move toward full FDA approval.

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The committee voted unanimously in favor of emergency authorization Friday. The FDA typically follows the recommendations of its panel. The next step will be for the CDC’s advisory panel to give guidance on how this third vaccine should be distributed.

Dr. Maria Simbra