90K Johnson & Johnson shots arriving in Va. this week
Avula expects all of group 1b to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine by end of April
More than 90,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses are arriving in Virginia now through Thursday, the state vaccine coordinator said Wednesday afternoon.
According to Dr. Danny Avula, 69,000 doses of the one-shot vaccine are heading to local health districts, and retail pharmacies will receive 22,000 doses, which will be administered from Friday through early next week. All vaccination events offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be labeled as such, he added, and anyone who is contacted for an appointment who wants to wait for one of the two-dose vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer will not lose their place in line.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received emergency use approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, has a lower efficacy rate than the other two vaccines, which have 95% effective rates, but public health experts have said that if a person is offered a Johnson & Johnson shot, they should feel comfortable taking it. With a 72% effectiveness rate at preventing COVID and 86% effectiveness in preventing serious illness, the one-dose vaccine is still a good vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said earlier this week. The vaccine helps move the country toward herd immunity, and it provides protection against COVID variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, according to the FDA.
Virginia’s Johnson & Johnson doses will be used at large vaccination events starting Friday, Avula said. The state’s allocation of the doses will decrease during the next two weeks, but as production ramps up, the state may get as many as 100,000 Johnson & Johnson doses per week later this month. He expects the state to get about 500,000 doses per week by the end of March, and that number will go up to 650,000 doses in April. The state and pharmacies continue to require appointments for all vaccinations, and most pharmacies administering shots are working from the state’s preregistration list.
The increase in allocations will allow the state to vaccinate everyone in group 1b — people age 65 and older, younger people with underlying conditions and essential workers — by the end of April, and most of the rest of Virginia’s adult population that wants a vaccine by the end of May, Avula said.
That falls in line with President Biden’s announcement this week that the nation will have enough vaccine “for every adult American” by the end of May, after Merck & Co. agreed to manufacture doses for competitor Johnson & Johnson, with the White House brokering the deal.