According to this news outlet, there were only about 700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine left in San Francisco as of April 26, when its usage resumed in the city. This website claims that about 600 more doses of ‘single-dose’ covid vaccine have been administered to San Francisco residents since April 26 and approximately 37,000 San Francisco residents have been injected with ‘single-dose’ vaccines. Because of the manufacturing problems the J&J vaccine is having in the United States, I don’t expect many more San Francisco residents to be injected with the J&J vaccine this year.
Those roughly 600 people in San Francisco who got J&J vaccine injections since April 26? I’m one of them.
- I hate, hate, hate injections. I strongly prefer to minimize them.
- This was a minor consideration, but I’m reaching full immunity faster with the J&J vaccine than I could with the others. The earliest I could have gotten the first dose any of the mRNA vaccines was only a few days earlier than when I got the J&J vaccine.
- I’d rather not have a vicious reaction to a 2nd mRNA dose
- Vaccine administrators can make fewer mistakes with the J&J vaccine: no dilution errors, no temperature errors, no 2nd appointment/dose to mess up, etc.
- The clinical trial for the J&J vaccine happened when some variants were already widespread.
- Vaccine diversity. This is the big one.
I’m worried that new variants might break through the vaccines, not just in small numbers (that’s inevitable because these vaccines don’t provide 100% protection), but in not-so-small numbers. Vaccine diversity is a defense against new variants. Since only about 5% of the 16+ year old population of San Francisco has been vaccinated with the J&J vaccine, and that percentage will not get higher this year, the J&J vaccine has the highest diversity advantage (among vaccines which may be used in the United States).
Let’s say, hypothetically, there’s a new variant which can break through the vector vaccines (J&J and AstraZeneca) but not the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). Since so many San Francisco residents received the mRNA vaccines, that variant will not spread far here.
What if a new variant breaks through the mRNA vaccines but not the vector vaccines? That variant could sweep through the city, but my vector vaccine will protect me.
It’s not just the overall city population. As far as I know, I’m the only person in my physical social circle (people who are likely to breathe the same air as me) who got the J&J vaccine. Most notably, my parents got mRNA vaccines. If there is a variant which breaks through mRNA vaccines but not vector vaccines, they can physically isolate themselves while I run their errands (which is pretty much what’s been happening in the past year anyway).
Socially, it’s a bit weird. When I mention that I’ve recently been vaccinated, people usually ask ‘first or second dose?’ and I say ‘only dose.’ Then they are surprised that J&J vaccines were still available.
I’m also still watching for blood clots. Intellectually, I know that the odds of getting a fatal blood clot are one in a million and that I do far more dangerous things all the time (such as crossing streets with car traffic). Emotionally, I put too much weight on highly improbable scenarios, as explained in the book Thinking Fast and Slow. I can’t wait for the waiting period to be over so I can stop thinking over this.
I know that I’m lucky to have gotten a vaccine dose as early as I have. Most people in the world who want to be vaccinated still don’t have that option. I don’t want to get my hopes too high because more surprises (such as new variants) may keep this pandemic going even after vaccination rates are high. The Seychelles are experiencing a covid surge despite 60% of adults being fully vaccinated, and 1/3 of the infected were already fully vaccinated. Nonetheless, things might ease up around here without putting people in the hospital or morgue.