A major decline in the amount of Johnson & Johnson vaccine has required Connecticut officials to revamp some distribution plans, including at college campuses before students leave for the summer break.
Josh Geballe, chief operating officer for Gov. Ned Lamont, said Connecticut had originally planned on giving college students the opportunity to get the one-dose vaccine, realizing there wouldn’t be enough time to administer them a second dose of the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.
But the state recently learned that its expected shipment of 20,000 J&J doses next week will drop to 6,000 and then down to 2,000 the following week.
The decline in supply comes after the company had to discard 15 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine last month because the batch did not meet quality standards. The loss in expected vaccines is also causing a problem for the military, which had targeted J&J for distribution overseas because it’s only one dose and doesn’t require strict temperature controls that others do.
“Yes, the plan will have to change,” said Geballe, explaining how the state now plans to give students at least the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna while they’re in Connecticut and then have the students get their second dose in their home state.
“The governor has been working with the White House and other governors to encourage them to do the same, with the logic being, by the time we get to mid-to-late May, there’s going to be a lot of extra vaccine in all 50 states and that we can take responsibility in our states for students who are coming home who would have already gotten that first dose of two,” said Geballe, noting that state officials had expected J&J deliveries to decline this week and beyond.
He said Connecticut is still receiving large supplies of vaccine from the other two manufacturers.
The state was also hoping to offer the one-dose vaccine in its 35 new, yellow mobile vaccination units, some of which are being dispatched to the Waterbury area where there has been an uptick in positive cases.
“Look, the J&J is especially handy for the mobile vans where people are just doing walk up because it’s a one shot,” Lamont said. “So we’re going to have to be a little clever now with that because it’s going to have a two-shot regimen with the Pfizer and Moderna.”
Meanwhile, more than 880,000 people in Connecticut have been fully vaccinated, a figure that includes those who received J&J. Nearly half of all residents 16 years and older have received at least one dose.
Connecticut continues to see an increase in COVID variants. The largest number, 649, are linked to the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom. That’s followed by 272 cases of the variant discovered in New York. A smaller number of cases of variants linked to California, South Africa, Brazil, Africa and Europe have also been identified in Connecticut.
The number of COVID-associated deaths increased by five to 7,940 since Wednesday.
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