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'These are all excellent vaccines': Doctors say all three COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective

While Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is less effective against preventing infection, it is more effective against preventing severe illness and hospitalization.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is making strides in its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, with over 156,000 residents being fully vaccinated. 

Idaho is one of many states that have fully vaccinated between 8-10% of the population, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The state got a boost in vaccine last week when it received more than 13,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson&Johnson vaccine. However, the state isn't expecting any more doses of this vaccine to come in over the next two weeks.

Johnson & Johnson's efficacy rate for preventing infection is lower than both Pfizer and Moderna, according to the CDC. While the efficacy is lower, all three are safe, effective and great at preventing serious illness.

“These are all excellent vaccines, much better than what we normally see with a lot of vaccines,” Saint Alphonsus Medical Executive Director Dr. Patrice Burgess said.

Idahoans shouldn't worry too much about the difference in efficacy rates among the three vaccines available right now, according to Burgess. Johnson & Johnson's is 66% against preventing infection, while Pfizer and Moderna's are in the mid-90s.

When it comes to preventing a serious infection, Johnson&Johnson's efficacy improves.

“It's interesting with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it actually performs better against severe disease,” Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said during the state’s vaccine press conference on Tuesday. “Kind of like flu shots work sometimes; it will keep you out of the hospital and you will have a mild case.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 80-85% effective at preventing a severe illness or hospitalization. All three vaccines are effective as far as preventing death.

Any one of the three vaccines will help bring an end to the pandemic and help get us back to life the way we knew before COVID-19, according to Burgess.

“If you imagine a wildfire spreading and it needs to have something it can catch,” she said. “If someone is either vaccinated or immune from natural infection or more than six feet away or wearing their mask then it can't spread, and it protects the people beyond that spread.”

As of right now, people shouldn’t expect to have a say in which vaccine they can get. Supply is still down and shipments can change week to week.

“With it being so unpredictable, I think the best we can do is when people go to sign up let them know which one, they will be getting,” Burgess said. “When people sign up, we'll try to make it really transparent which vaccine we have that day.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine also has some advantages. It’s a single dose compared to Pfizer and Moderna that require two. It can be held in a refrigerator for three months, meaning it's more accessible as well.

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