Oregon Could Receive 25,000 Doses Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Next Week
The long-awaited third COVID-19 vaccine in the United States will boost Oregon’s supply by an estimated 25,000 doses in the initial shipment.
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen provided the preliminary figure that the state expects from manufacturer Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday to the House Subcommittee on COVID-19.
Federal regulators have not yet granted emergency authorization to the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. But U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists say in a review that the shot is safe and about 85% effective against severe COVID-19. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet Friday to discuss the application and look at the evidence, and the agency is expected to make a decision soon afterwards, possibly as soon as the weekend.
“We’ve been given to understand that when that happens, that week we’ll be able to order for the next week about 25,000 first doses,” Allen said.
The 25,000 figure won’t continue on a weekly basis, though. State officials aren’t sure what the regular weekly supply of Johnson & Johnson will be, but it could be around 7,000 doses initially. The low figure reflects the initial short supply of Johnson & Johnson doses and the time the pharmaceutical manufacturer will need to scale up its operation.
“That’s a stockpile, so it will drop after that,” Allen said.
Only a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is needed, in contrast to the vaccines made by the other two manufacturers, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, which require two shots several weeks apart.
The anticipated Johnson & Johnson shipments are just a sliver of Oregon’s current vaccine supply, which is approaching 117,000 first doses a week from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.Oregon’s weekly supply includes 87,000 doses that the state allocates to providers and health departments, 24,000 doses a week for pharmacies in the federal retail pharmacy program and 6,000 doses that the federal government sends to federally qualified health care centers, which provide primary care for low-income and underserved communities.
Oregon is catching up after winter weather hammered the Midwest and South and delayed shipments last week of about 67,000 Moderna doses. Allen said Oregon received two weeks worth of Moderna doses on Monday. During the next three or four days, Allen said, Oregon will see “probably the highest” dose administration figures as providers work through the supplies.
So far, Oregon has administered about 836,000 doses. About 548,000 Oregonians have received at least one dose. Nearly 2,200 Oregonians have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, out of about 154,000 positive cases.
The vaccine rollout continues this week for seniors. This week, seniors 70 and older became eligible for vaccinations. Next week, all seniors 65 and older will become eligible, although state officials warn that they could face weeks of waiting due to supply limits. By late March, the state expects to vaccinate at least 75% of everyone who is eligible and wants to be vaccinated, Allen said.
From there, Oregon expects to move into the so-called 1b priority group, which includes front-line workers outside the health care industry and people with underlying medical conditions. The state is still working on vaccinating its 1a group, which includes health care workers, staff and residents in long-term care facilities and people with disabilities. K-12 school teachers and support staff are also being vaccinated.
This Friday, Oregon state officials will announce more details about its rollout to the 1b group.
Allen said the state is still doing “a lot of really hard painstaking work on phase 1a,” which includes eligible people now seeking a vaccine after initially hesitating.
Committee vice-chair Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Roseburg, asked if the state can set up an 800-number for people to make appointments by phone. Advocates on Monday testified that a call-in system is needed to aid seniors who are unfamiliar with online technology, websites and smartphone apps.
Allen said there is “no system I can build to accommodate” the demand that a phone system would face as new categories of people become eligible.
“I wish I could say something better than that, but that’s just the nature of numbers,” Allen said.
State officials also have not built a central online system for people to make appointments, saying that the many different types of vaccination providers and provider computer systems across Oregon make it unrealistic. Oregon Health Authority online information refers people to their local public health departments and providers.
Allen repeated the state’s mantra for people to be patient, adding that there will be “pinch points” when new groups become eligible.
“We’ve got the doses,” he said.