FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson vaccine, giving US 3rd option to fight COVID-19

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This July 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine in Belgium. (J&J photo)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized use of a third COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., declaring the Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe and effective in adults 18 and older.

“The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for COVID-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic, which has claimed over half a million lives in the United States,” Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, said in a statement.

The green light by federal regulators was expected to trigger the shipment of 3.9 million doses as early as Monday, with some 800,000 of that expected to go directly to pharmacies.

Those numbers would grow weekly. And with shipments from other vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna, the expanded supply would eventually put the country on track to have enough vaccine on hand to immunize some 130 million adults by the end of March.

Officials caution, though, that it will take time to get shots in arms.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said a day earlier that the nation now has three “highly effective” vaccines.

“Importantly, each of them are very effective against severe disease and virtually all have them say that you look at the data and it’s clear that you get essentially no hospitalizations, or deaths. And this is very good news,” he said in a briefing with reporters. (By Anne Flaherty and Stephanie Ebbs / ABC News)

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