Manufacturing issues reduce Va.’s Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply

Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Expect the state’s vaccination process to take a little longer in the coming weeks. At a time when more Virginians than ever are eligible for the vaccine, the department of health says it will have fewer vaccine doses due to manufacturing issues at a Johnson & Johnson plant.

Late last month, the drug manufacturer had to recall 15 million doses before release because of poor mixing.

As a result, the nearly 5-million doses expected to be produced for the country dropped to nearly 700,000.

State vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says the shortage will equate to a nearly 100,000 dose reduction of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply starting next week. This will most affect vaccine appointments over the next several weeks.

“This is about a tenth of what we were hoping for and expecting to receive,” Avula said. “One-hundred thousand fewer doses does limit the total number of appointments and when we all collectively move into phase two by April 18, that doesn’t mean you will be able to get vaccinated within 24 hours.”

Cat Long with the Richmond Henrico Health District says because of the shortage, the district isn’t expecting to receive any Johnson & Johnson doses next week.

“The good news was for us was that we didn’t have anyone scheduled for Johnson & Johnson, so we didn’t have to cancel anybody,” Long said.

By the end of March, the state received 200,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Of that, the RHHD received a total of 15,000 doses. Long says the doses the district received were prioritized for community events for individuals with disabilities, homebound seniors, and on-site events for long-term care facilities.

Long says those one-time Johnson & Johnson doses were just a one-time allotment. The district has not factored vaccine brands into its clinical planning, so people who reside in that health district shouldn’t feel as much of an impact.

“Up until this point, we have been thinking of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in planning at the local level as an additional vaccine, rather than relying that they will be there,” Long said. “It doesn’t push us back from our original planning, though it certainly is going to prevent us from getting through all of the eligible individuals as quickly as possible.”

The VDH says it still expects to meet its vaccination timeline to have every adult eligible by April 18, but vaccinations after that date might come slower than expected.

“Everybody who wants to be vaccinated will have the chance to do that by the end of May with at least the first dose, we’re still really confident in that timeline,” Avula said.

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