Covid-19 Vaccine Update – Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Approved by EMA

Covid-19 Update- Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Approved by the EMA 11/3/21

On March 11th 2021, the European Medicines Agency granted authorisation to the fourth Covid-19 vaccine, the Johnson and Johnson one-dose vaccine for use in adults aged 18 and over.  The three vaccines already granted authorisation by the EMA are the Pfozer/Biontech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford. 

The EMA’s human medicines committee yesterday concluded that the vaccine data was “robust and met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality”.   This is an exciting development in the EU’s Covid vaccination strategy as this vaccine is single dose. It can be stored at fridge temperatures and has shown high efficacy in clinical trials to date. 

Clinical Trial Data for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is very positive.

The trial, which involved over 44,000 people, found a 67% reduction in the number of symptomatic Covid-19 cases after two weeks in people who received this vaccine compared to people given a placebo. The vaccine shows immunity after two weeks, which strengthens over time.  It also protected against 85% of moderate-severe Covid-19 cases, thereby reducing hospitalisation, and has completely protected those vaccinated against Covid related death.

What side effects are associated with the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine?

The side effects experienced by people who received this vaccine “were usually mild or moderate and cleared within a couple of days after vaccination”, said the EMA in a statement about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine

The most common side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, tiredness, muscle pain and nausea. These are similar side effects experienced in the other Covid-19 vaccines approved in the EU. 

Is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine similar to any of the other vaccines previously approved for use in Ireland?

Similar to the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, this new Johnson and Johnson one is a viral vector vaccine.  This means it uses a virus – in this case a version of adenoviruses – which may cause mild cold or flu-like symptoms in people.  This adenovirus is then modified to include DNA that codes for the spike protein on the Sars-CoV-2 virus.  This spike protein is what the virus uses to penetrate our immune cells.  The adenovirus then works its way into our cells, where it delivers the spike protein.  Our cells then get to work doing what they do best and produce copies of the spike protein which triggers an immune response in our bodies. 

The immune response has been recorded at two weeks post vaccination and continues to strengthen over time. 

When will the Johnson and Johnson vaccine be available in Ireland?

 This week HSE CEO Paul Reid said 3.8 million vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to Ireland in Q2, including 600,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.  A larger availability of supply like this should greatly help our efforts at vaccinating the wider community, and will hopefully bring vaccination to pharmacies at long last.  Pharmacists across Ireland are ready and waiting to vaccinate their patients in a safe and robust manner. 

At Glengarriff Pharmacy, I will be providing Covid-19 vaccination as soon as the HSE can supply us with the vaccines.  We have a waiting list in the pharmacy, so if you wish to put your name down please give us a call at 027 63744, pressing 1 for dispensary. 

For more information on Covid-19 please visit the HSE website , or the WHO .

Every best wish,


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