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Dr. Jha on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

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The FDA has deemed the Johnson & Johnson single-shot coronavirus vaccine to be safe and effective, paving the way for an emergency use authorization. Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, joins "CBS This Morning" to explain how Johnson & Johnson stacks up against Moderna and Pfizer, and whether the virus variant first found in South Africa complicates vaccination.

Video Transcript

GAYLE KING: We're joined now by Dr. Jha. He's Dean of Brown University's School of Public Health. Good morning to you, Dr. Jha. Always good to see you.

ASHISH JHA: Good morning, Gayle. Thanks for having me back.

GAYLE KING: I always wait for you to say that.

[LAUGHTER]

It cracks me up too. Let's go back to David's piece about that booster shot. How important is a booster shot, and when do you think it'll be available?

ASHISH JHA: So first of all, I don't know if we need it. I'm just really not sure, Gayle, because the current vaccines really do look like they're working pretty well. So I suspect that we may not need it at all.

GAYLE KING: They say we need it because of the variant though. They're saying we need it because the variant. You're saying maybe not?

ASHISH JHA: Maybe not. Maybe not. Even the current vaccines seem to work pretty well against the variant. The J&J vaccine was tested against that variant, worked pretty well. Nobody got hospitalized or died. So first of all, I don't know if we need it.

If we need it, it'll probably be sometime in the fall I suspect. At which point, we should have enough for people to get it, so we'll have to see. But I remain pretty optimistic that we may get away without needing it at all.

GAYLE KING: We have another weapon, as you know, coming out in this war that we call COVID, the J&J vaccine, Johnson Johnson. And already people are saying, only one dose? I don't know if that's good. Or what happened to having two doses? So could you sort it out. Already people are asking a lot of questions about which vaccine is the best, Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, one dose versus two. What do you say about that?

ASHISH JHA: What I say to folks is, first of all all, three vaccines are superb, and let me tell you why. Look, at the end of the day, what do we care about? What we care about is making sure people don't get sick, they don't get hospitalized, and, of course, most importantly, that they don't die.

All three of these vaccines are superb at preventing severe, severe illness, and there are minor differences otherwise. Obviously J&J has the upside of one shot only and what I'm saying to my family is, when it's your turn, get any of the three vaccines. And don't worry about which one.

GAYLE KING: Get whatever's available. I got a call yesterday from friends who are grandparents, who have both gotten their vaccines. They're ready to go. Can grandparents who have been vaccinated, can they see their grandchildren? And why do we still have to wear masks after we get the vaccines? So do the grandparents question first. A lot of people are wondering about this.

ASHISH JHA: It's a really good question. And look, obviously grandkids, others, are not vaccinated yet. I think the way I look at this is, with the vaccinations grandparents are now much, much safer, and so I think it is much easier.

What I would ideally like is, if the outbreaks are still very large in the community, for the infection numbers to come down a bit more. But this is the conversation I'm having with my parents. They want to see my kids. I'm not sure they want to see me, but they definitely want to see my kids.

[LAUGHTER]

And we're trying to figure out when the right time is. And I think, sooner rather than later, that will become safer, especially as infection numbers continue to come down.

GAYLE KING: And it's important even after you get the vaccine, Dr. Jha, as you know, to wear a mask, maybe even two. I even started wearing two now because of you. You've still got to wear the mask even after you get the vaccine.

ASHISH JHA: At least for a little while, and the reason is because there are a lot of people around who are not vaccinated. So I've gotten a vaccine, but my wife hasn't. And I want to make sure that, if I'm out and about, and, if I get infected, that I don't spread it to her. So that's why I wear a mask in public, to make sure that I can keep other people who are not vaccinated safe.

At some point, when everybody's vaccinated, the masks can come off in most instances. Only in rare instances, I think, will we need to continue to wear a mask.

GAYLE KING: All right, Dr. Jha, we thank you. And something tells me your parents' want to see you. The numbers at Brown University of COVID are way down compared to what's happening in the state of Rhode Island, so kudos to you. Thank you very much for joining us this morning.