RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Virginia’s vaccination coordinator says this was a record week for vaccinations in the state, with an estimated 71,000 shots given out in the last 24 hours alone.
And more doses are on the way, especially if an FDA advisory panel gives the green light for emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
U.S. health advisers endorsed the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to quickly follow the recommendation.
No freezing is required for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It’s shown to be 100% effective preventing hospitalization and death in clinical trials, and is a “phenomenal option,” Avula said.
Virginia is scheduled to receive a one-time allocation of 69,000 doses upon authorization. That number will not be sustained through the following weeks because the company currently has a large build of doses. Supply will drop off for a few weeks and then ramp up again in March.
The 69,000 Johnson & Johnson doses will be doses on top of the 180,000 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna, 130,000 second doses of Pfizer and Moderna and 52,000 doses federal pharmacy partners are expected to receive this coming week.
Avula explained during a briefing on Friday that distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be slightly different.
Clinics will be held where only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered and people will be told that is what is being offered ahead of time. Eligible Virginians will not be able to specifically request receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, they will be able to turn down those appointment opportunities and remain on the waiting list for the other vaccines.
The Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets Sunday. Its report will come out next week outlining who the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be prioritized for.
Virginia will use those findings to try to integrate Johnson & Johnson into local mass vaccination clinics.
Avula acknowledged that “there are segments of our community that may question” the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“What we are going to do is run it through mass clinics and it’s clearly messaged that these are Johnson & Johnson clinics, ‘here is what you need to know about Johnson and Johnson.’ If for whatever reason you decide not to take advantage of this opportunity, you’ll just stay and line and you’ll get slotted for the next Pfizer and Moderna clinic that comes up.”