As vaccine distribution continues to roll out and another age group prepares to become eligible in a matter of days, there are still a lot of questions and hesitation. On Wednesday, Quinnipiac University gathered a panel of medical experts, including a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, to address concerns and discuss the latest developments.
“The company Johnson & Johnson is expecting to produce up to 20 million doses by the end of March if the approval process goes smoothly,” said Dr. Khuram Ghumman, past president of the Hartford County Medical Association and a member of the governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group’s allocation subcommittee.
When it comes to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, experts say even though the numbers, in terms of efficacy, appear lower than the other vaccines, it’s important to remember Johnson & Johnson’s clinical trials happened while variants of the virus were more prevalent.
“What’s really good about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that because we know these South African variants are out there, they actually targeted South Africa for their clinical trials. They have a lot of data out of South Africa,” said Dr. Jeffrey Mital, Quinnipiac University associate professor of biomedical sciences.
When it comes to the possibility of vaccination mandates for certain scenarios like transportation or in classrooms, Quinnipiac University Professor of Law, John Thomas, says vaccines under emergency use authorization through the FDA cannot be mandated. But he says that Pfizer expects full approval by the end of the year, and he believes mandates could happen after that.
“In some context, I do imagine this will happen. It will probably not be until at least early 2022, maybe later than that,” said Thomas.
Asked about pregnant women, Quinnipiac University Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Mary Peterson says it’s recommended they receive the vaccine when available because they fall in a higher-risk category.
“There has been no evidence to prove there is any correlation with miscarriage or infertility with the COVID vaccine,” said Peterson.
And the panel agreed that even after getting the shots, it’s still smart to take precautions.
“We just don’t have scientific data showing that vaccinated people are less likely to transmit, so until we know that data and even afterwards, wear your mask,” said Dr. Mital.