WASHINGTON (AP/WPRI) — Nearly four million doses of the newest COVID-19 vaccine were shipped Sunday night and will begin to be delivered to states for injections starting Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Health says the state has ordered 9,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, meaning that they are in transit to Rhode Island, and vaccine “will likely arrive over the next few days.”
J&J will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June, but the distribution would be backloaded.
Though the new shot is easier to administer and requires only one dose, the administration is not altering its distribution plans.
The White House is encouraging Americans to take the first dose available to them, regardless of manufacturer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents.
Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also voted overwhelmingly Sunday to recommend the vaccine for adults 18 years old and up.
Members of the group emphasized all three vaccines now available in the U.S. are highly protective against the worst effects of the virus, including hospitalization and death.
CDC recommendations are not binding on state governments or doctors but are widely heeded by the medical community. The same CDC panel previously recommended the use of the two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna authorized in December.
Monday, advisors to the CDC are meeting again to discuss clinical considerations for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee will discuss its review of the FDA and CDC recommendations Wednesday, and vote on whether or not to authorize the vaccine for use in Rhode Island.
R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole-Alexander Scott said last Thursday federal partners informed the state if approved, Rhode Island would “likely get a first push of 9,000 doses,” and “could conceivably start administering this vaccine in two weeks or so,” provided the vaccine is cleared by the necessary federal and state entities.
Sunday, a RIDOH spokesperson said beyond the first shipment of 9,000 doses, the state did not know “what subsequent allocations would look like yet.”
In a press conference on Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the J&J vaccine could begin to be distributed in Massachusetts next week.
“It is likely that we will get, for next week, a shipment,” he said. “And that shipment will probably be distributed pretty evenly.”
Although additional doses of vaccine will help meet the need in the Bay State, the demand is still higher than the supply received.
“The good news here is having another effective vaccine for all eligible residents produced by a third manufacturer should mean a big increase in the number of vaccines that are available for first doses or single doses here in the Commonwealth,” Baker said.