Acting Commissioner of Public Health Deidre Gifford (CTNewsjunkie photo)

NEW BRITAIN, CT  –  Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Friday at a Stop & Shop in New Britain. 

Gifford said when the vaccine first came out they started hearing questions about whether it was as good as others. 

“We wanted to say ‘yes’ the J&J vaccine is as good as the others,” Gifford said. “They are all excellent vaccines.” 

The J&J vaccine was found to be 72% protective in the United States, 66% protective in South America, and 57% protective in South Africa.

“They’re all extremely effective and they’re all extremely safe,” Gifford said of all the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Gifford who falls into the 55 and older group urged those in the 55 to 45 age bracket who could start making appointments Friday to be patient. 

“The best vaccine for you is the first one you can get,” Gifford said. 

Gifford got her vaccine at Stop & Shop, which will have a limited supply of vaccine and it will be administered by appointment. 

There have been about 130,000 first vaccine doses available every week in Connecticut, according to Gifford. She said she expects that to increase over the next few weeks. 

She said the allocation of Johnson & Johnson has been relatively flat over the past few weeks but in early April they expect to see “a big acceleration in the amount of Johnson & Johnson,” vaccine.

“Soon, as the governor has said, we anticipate some time in May that the supply is actually going to be more than the demand that we have for vaccines,” Gifford said. 

She said it’s a temporary situation and sometimes there are problems with bottlenecks, but she anticipates it will work itself out. 

Friday was the first day those 45 and older could sign up for a vaccine. 

There are about 477,000 people in that age bracket, but Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, said around 90,000 have already been vaccinated. He estimated only about 200,000 of the newly eligible group will be hunting for one of the 130,000 first doses. 

“As we get these younger age groups, we’re able to do it faster, we’re getting a lot more vaccines, and also it does appear that there might be a slightly lower take-rate as well,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday at his biweekly press briefing. 

Nearly 1 million people have received at least the first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. And about half of those have receive their second dose, while about 36,208 Connecticut residents have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

That means about 62% of those 55 and older have received at least one dose and 33% of the state’s total population has been vaccinated. 

“We are going to have plenty of vaccines over the course of the next month,” Lamont said.