COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue expanding in Houston area, 3rd vaccine could be approved soon

Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is one step closer to becoming the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi is associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine believes the agency's advisory committee will approve it on Friday.

"This new vaccine is will definitely be a game changer. That said, however, I think we're going to need many more to come," said Dr. Bottazzi.

She adds, logistically, it has several advantages over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It is a single dose, and requires basic refrigeration.

Johnson and Johnson intends produce 100 million doses of the vaccine by this summer.

"This will be probably be one of the vaccines that will also be rapidly deployed in low, middle income countries," she noted. 

And, to remote or rural parts of the U.S.

Johnson & Johnson reports the vaccine is 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and 85% effective against most serious illness. 

Although, less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Dr. Bottazzi stresses people should get the first vaccine that becomes available to them.

"Because the more people are going to get vaccinated, the less we're going to [give] the virus an opportunity of changing or mutating," she explained. 

She also notes all three vaccines work by attacking the spike protein of the virus.

Dr. Bottazzi is also the co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and co-leading the development of its COVID-19 vaccine. 

The trial is in the second phase which she hopes will wrap up in next month. Their protein-based vaccine, she says, will also be easier to deploy.

"We have many, many vaccine manufacturers that know how to make these protein-based vaccines around the world," Dr. Bottazzi said.

She also hopes it will be good candidate for pediatric use because there is more information on how they perform in children.

This week FEMA's vaccination site launched at NRG.

The agency says with 200 federal employees including the National Guard, 6,000 people will receive the vaccine seven days a week. FEMA is working with Harris County Public Health and Houston Public Health to make sure the area’s most vulnerable populations and underserved communities are prioritized.

Both departments will use their waitlists to schedule appointments for the drive-thru site. To register, click here.

CVS also announced 15 more of their Houston area pharmacies will begin offering vaccine this week. In total, CVS is offering the vaccine at nearly 100 of its Texas locations.