Due to manufacturing mistakes, Virginia’s allotment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will significantly drop.

RICHMOND – Virgina’s COVID-19 vaccine allotment is about to significantly drop. The Commonwealth will only get 14,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday, instead of the 124,000 originally scheduled. The retail pharmacy partnership will see a drop too, with only 13,100 doses coming in. That’s all due to a manufacturing mistake, one we discussed last week.

“It’s about a tenth or so of what we were hoping for and expecting to receive,” State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said.

Speaking at a Friday press conference, Avula said the decrease wouldn’t stop Virginia from moving into Phase 2 by April 18. But it will cause some other issues.

Waiting

“It does slow the pace of our progression once we’ve opened the up to Phase 2,” Avula said. “Having 100,000 fewer doses than we were expecting does limit the total number of appointments [we can schedule].”

When the state collectively moves into Phase 2, people may not be able to schedule an appointment within 24 hours. It could take longer, depending on the vaccination allocation.

“I do want to reassure everyone that based on the anticipated delivery schedule, the production schedule, for Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and our projected demand, everybody who wants to be vaccinated will still have the chance to do that by the end of May, at least for a first dose,” Avula said. “We still feel really confident about that timeline.”

Colleges and Universities

Originally, the state hoped to vaccinate college students before they went home for their summer break. With the shortage, that just won’t happen.

“We have a spreadsheet that kind of maps out the last day of classes, the graduation dates and the anticipated uptake of vaccine by the student population and all of those institutions,” Avula said. “And so this shortage in Johnson & Johnson for next week does mean that some of the higher ed institutions that were planning on starting student vaccination next week will have to push that back by a week or so.”

He also noted that a small number of institutions will move forward with Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week, based off of their last day of classes.

“But it does push back the pace that we can move through those institutes of higher education,” Avula said.

Allocations for Next Week

Although the Johnson & Johnson allocation will be far less than anticipated, both Pfizer and Moderna remain on track.

Next week, Virginia will receive 117,000 first doses of Pfizer and 140,000 second doses. The state will also receive 86,000 first doses of Moderna and 82,000 second doses.

“They may increase, you know, by a thousand here and there, but these numbers have been fairly consistent for the last month,” Avula said. “And we’re told by the federal government that these will be kind of the plateau number that we can expect moving forward.”

Looking Ahead

As the state gears up toward its move into Phase 2, Avula encouraged health departments, pharmacies and other partners to open up appointment opportunities as far in advance as possible.

“Ideally we’d love to have about a three to four week runway of appointments,” Avula said.

The doctor noted that the fluctuation in the Johnson & Johnson allocation made his request more challenging. However, he expressed that the state had a clear idea of how many Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to expect. 

“We’ll at least be able to knock out the first dose appointments with that portion of the allocation,” Avula said.

Even with the changes coming, the Vaccinate Virginia website is still the first step to registering for a vaccine.

The doctor also mentioned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s VaccineFinder. The site helps people find the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine availability at certain providers and pharmacies.

“By the end of May, there will be enough supply and enough appointments for everybody who wants to get vaccinated,” Avula said.

Amie Knowles reports for Dogwood. You can reach her at amie@couriernewsroom.com