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A&M expert: “No reason to avoid” any FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines

A&M epidemiologist Rebecca Fischer says “the goal is to get everybody vaccinated,” with any FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine that’s available.
Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Johnson & Johnson is still expected to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine this week, and Novavax is not too far behind. If granted approval from the FDA, they will become the third and fourth major pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.

Yesterday, First News at Four sat down with Marcia Ory, a Regents and Distinguished Professor in the Texas A&M School of Public Health, to talk about how the four compare to one another.

Today, that conversation goes one step further with Texas A&M epidemiologist and biostatistician, Rebecca Fischer, to understand how the anticipated emergence of new vaccine makers will affect the vaccination process.

“We should have greater production,” Fischer says of the expected arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “so a higher number of vaccines available.”

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine only requires a single shot for immunization. Fischer says that’s a huge perk. She says that allows health officials responsible for coordinating the mass inoculation process more options in the near future.

“As the vaccinations become available, if this is increased production, increased availability, and a diversity of vaccines that are available, then we want to leverage all of those things,” Fischer says.

So with the possibility of three vaccines at varying levels of efficacy available, you might wonder: Which COVID-19 vaccine is best for me? Fischer says all of them are.

“There’s really no reason to be targeting populations with a specific vaccine,” Fischer explains.

She says there are certain pros and cons with each but says those are evaluations that will be made on a much larger scale by county, state, and federal officials. Fischer says the goal for those individuals making those assessments is efficiency. She says they want to make a plan to get as many vaccines in the arms of their constituents as quickly as possible regardless ok which manufacturer is producing the doses.

“So if we have more Johnson & Johnson vaccine available and we’re running low on Moderna and Pfizer, there’s no reason not to make that new Jonson & Johnson vaccine available to the masses,” Fischer says.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, which means that an individual that receives the shot could still become symptomatic after contracting the virus. According to a December article from National Geographic, some health officials are recommending against “mixing and matching” vaccines. Fischer agrees in part. She advises against getting multiple vaccines in the present and near-future saying that will only burden an already limited supply of doses. But when the supply of vaccines grows, whenever that may be, Fischer says it should be safe (pending and following recommendations from the vaccine manufacturers) to take different brands of the vaccine as they become available to you.

“There’s no reason not to be fully vaccinated,” Fischer says “and by all means, take the different kinds of vaccines.”

Click here for the FDA’s information on COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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