West Coast scientific panel approves Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Washington

A panel tasked with reviewing vaccine safety for four western states has approved the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine for Washington state. 

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, comprised of vaccine experts from Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, reviews the safety and efficacy of vaccines that have been federally authorized. 

Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement Wednesday morning. 

"The Workgroup’s authorization gives us further confidence around the safety and efficacy of the J & J vaccine," Inslee said. "Like the other two, this vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness from COVID-19, which is critical in our fight against this deadly virus.

"With the delivery of the J & J vaccine this week, and overall increase in the number of vaccine doses coming to Washington, we have increased our capacity to get vaccine to all parts of the state. We are making good progress on vaccination rates, and this third vaccine will help our efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible."

RELATED: CDC signs off on Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine

J&J’s vaccine protects against the worst effects of COVID-19 after one shot, and it can be stored up to three months at refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to handle than the previous vaccines, which must be frozen.

Nearly 4 million doses began shipping to states this week. 

While early J&J supplies will be small, the company has said it can deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and a total of 100 million by the end of June.

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