NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The first shipments of the United States’ third FDA-approved COVID vaccine are expected in New Mexico as early as Tuesday. Alongside the expected shipment, there are new national indicators that more people are changing their minds to get the vaccine while ditching the “wait and see” approach.
The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed Monday it’s expected 17,200 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID vaccine to arrive this week, with the first doses expected Tuesday. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use on Saturday, scientists found in a global study that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine had a 66% effectiveness rate in preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19.
The vaccine is expected to be slightly less-effective than Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines, which were both found to be about 95% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease. However, some local doctors believe the new option will still keep more New Mexicans out of hospitals.
“What’s most important to us is patients,” said Dr. Denise Gonzales, Medical Director for Presbyterian. “(What’s most important to us) is the vaccine preventing us from getting so sick that we have to be hospitalized or so sick that we die and for all of the vaccines, they’re all 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death.”
A frequent voice for Presbyterian on COVID-related matters, Dr. Gonzales’ shared her thoughts about vaccines at large during a virtual town hall hosted by the Department of Health Friday. The state is expected to host another COVID-19 vaccine and modeling presentation on Wednesday.
New Mexico’s expected 17,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are coming on top of the 77,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine New Mexico is expected to receive this week. Meanwhile, the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard shows New Mexico’s now fully vaccinated more than 211,000 people.
As a third vaccine comes online, a new national poll also indicates vaccine acceptance continues to grow. A newly published poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the number of Americans who would “wait and see” before getting the vaccine has dropped from 31% in January to 22% in February, as more people see more vaccinations at large.
According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 55% of U.S. adults say they’ve either gotten a dose or will get one as soon as possible, up from 34% in December. A combined 22% told Kaiser Family Foundation it would either “never” get a COVID vaccine, or would only get it if they were forced to by their work, school, or an activity.
“I think that the COVID vaccine is extremely safe, it was thoroughly evaluated whether its Moderna or any other, including when (Johnson & Johnson), comes out,” Dr. Gonzales said. “And although it did come out fairly rapidly, we’ve had so many advanced in vaccine development over the last decade, but in particular over the last year.”
An NMDOH spokesman didn’t provide an answer Monday when asked how the state was planning to roll out the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. However, the state had said in recent news conferences that it’s working on mobile clinics to could go to rural parts of New Mexico in preparation for the third vaccine. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that does not require a booster shot. The new vaccine can also be kept in a standard refrigerator.