RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Over 200,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccines are on the way to Virginia next week according to the commonwealth’s vaccine czar.
After 49,000 J&J doses arrived in Virginia this week, State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said 122,000 shots will arrive next week; the state’s allocation from the federal government.
In addition, Avula said nearly the same amount will be delivered through the federal government’s retail pharmacy partnership program.
“That’s a huge infusion of vaccine, and I think it means that we’re all going to be able as a state to progress through 1c probably a week quicker than we thought otherwise,” Avula said.
Normal weekly allocations of Pfizer and Moderna shots have plateaued around 200,000 first doses, and 160,000 to 180,000 second jabs, he said.
Avula remained confident ‘phase one’ of vaccine administration can be achieved by the end of April, and “probably a little bit sooner.’
After 8News interviewed Avula the New York Times reported 15 million J&J doses were ruined after ingredients were incorrectly mixed with those of AstraZeneca’s vaccines at a Baltimore bio plant manufacturing both of the vaccines.
Avula said he talked to a reporter from the Times about this story, and indicated they said the fiasco would not affect next week’s massive shipment to Virginia.
The Times report indicated current vaccines being used nationwide from J&J were made in the Netherlands, and not in Baltimore.
When asked if this would slow down the time-frame for every adult in Virginia to become eligible for one dose, Avula said that depends on ‘plan B’ from the federal government, although “it certainly could.”
Although the road shortens toward the state’s herd immunity goal of 75 percent of the population getting vaccinated, Avula said there may be a struggle to crest 60 to 65 percent of Virginians.
Minority populations have reservations about being vaccinated, therefore Avula said community outreach is essential including in rural areas where “vaccine demand is going down.”
“Some of what we are seeing as best practices is really setting up opportunities for non-judgmental conversation, I think particularly for rural residents, conservative-leaning residents; they do have more hesitation and more resistance like, this vaccine has been politicized like nothing else we’ve ever experienced,” Avula said.
Following the news that Pfizer announced initial adolescent trial data showed their vaccine is safe for adolescents, Avula said “they will continue to finish out those trials, submit their application for the FDA authorization” and this “could mean there is a viable product prior to the start of the school year.”
Avula said around 3.77 million doses have been administered across Virginia to-date, meaning around 15.5 percent of the population is completely vaccinated, and 29 to 30 percent of the population has received at least one dose; noting that 71 percent of people over 65 years old have received at least one dose.