TAMPA, Fla. - Signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine currently means you'll get a dose from either Pfizer or Moderna, but a third option from Johnson & Johnson is close as more companies finish their clinical trials.
"This is good news, and the better news is that it is a one-shot vaccine. So if they do get emergency use authorization, this will make vaccinations a lot easier," said Dr. Michael Teng of University of South Florida Health
Virologist Dr. Teng said Johnson & Johnson is in phase three of clinical trials and expects to share the results next month before talking to the Food and Drug Administration. Astra Zeneca is also developing a vaccine and Novavax is testing its dose in Tampa Bay.
"We could, by the time spring rolls around in March, have three more under emergency use authorization," said Teng.
More choices may not mean you get to pick, but it could mean you get a vaccine faster. Dr. Teng shared what he thinks will happen.
"I have a feeling it’s just going to be whatever is available. Right now, you don’t really get a choice between Pfizer and Moderna. It’s whatever is there," he explained.
The vaccine rollout was slow in the first month, but federal leaders want to pick up the pace.
"A million a day on a two-dose vaccination schedule, it’s still pretty slow-going, considering we have 300-odd million people in the country. So we really need that to speed up to three million to five million a day," said Teng.
Public health experts said that’s the only way the country will quickly reach herd immunity -- when enough people are protected against the virus to significantly slow or stop the spread. Scientists said more transparency about the supply will help, so states know exactly how many doses they’re getting and when.
"If they can’t plan, they can’t plan to ship out, they can’t tell the local jurisdictions, local hospitals or Publix, Walgreens, CVS, when they’re going to get the next shipment, then nobody knows what’s going on," said Teng.
Scientists hope additional vaccine options will help drive the infection numbers down.