OMAHA, Nebraska — The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is the third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. We sat down with Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease expert with Nebraska Medicine, to answer commonly asked questions about the new vaccine.
Q: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a live vaccine. What is the difference?
A: One delivers mRNA, the other actually delivers a little bit of DNA to our cells.
Q: So does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine inject individuals with the actual virus or alter DNA?
A: Absolutely not. There's just no chance that any of these vaccines, either the mRNA vaccines or the Johnson and Johnson viral vaccine will cause you to have an infection.
Q: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are shown to be 95% effective while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine looks to be about only 70% effective. Is there one vaccine that is better than the other?
A: What folks really need to focus on is that any of these vaccines will prevent the severe manifestations of COVID...the severe illness, the hospitalization and the death.
Q: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose and does not need to be stored in a freezer. How important are those features?
A: In places that don't have that ultra-low freezer capacity and in people who logistically have a great difficulty in coming back for a second booster dose, this is going to be a real advantage.
Q: Are side effects less severe with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compared to Pfizer or Moderna?
A: Maybe a little less fever, aches, malaise, fatigue, headaches, those sorts of things.