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Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets CDC panel backing, could start shipping within 24 hours

The federal government, through distribution partner McKesson Corp., plans to ship the first shots Sunday night or Monday morning.
Image: Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine
Vials of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen coronavirus vaccine.Johnson and Johnson via Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

An advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Sunday to recommend Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine for widespread use, a final clearance for the shot after U.S. regulators authorized it Saturday.

State and local public health authorities will use Food and Drug Administration and CDC guidance as they administer the first 4 million doses. The federal government, through its distribution partner, McKesson Corp., plans to ship the first shots Sunday night or Monday morning.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has played a major role in guiding states about how to allocate scarce doses, although states themselves have the final say in how they allocate shots.

One of the panelists said during a presentation Sunday that there have been no studies yet comparing Johnson & Johnson's vaccine directly to the other approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc. but that all vaccines were highly effective at reducing hospitalizations and deaths.

The panelist also said there was insufficient data to know whether the vaccines' safety or efficacy could be compromised by pre-existing conditions that weaken a person's immune system.

Johnson & Johnson's shot will be the only one-dose coronavirus vaccine available in the U.S. It is also the easiest to ship and store, as it can be kept in a refrigerator rather than a freezer.

Johnson & Johnson expects to ship 100 million doses by midyear, enough to vaccinate nearly a third of Americans.