Connecticut officials expect a sharp decline in the supply of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for at least the next two weeks as a result of a production problem at one of the company’s manufacturers.
“We have been hit by Johnson & Johnson. I think you probably know they had a problem in one of their manufacturing facilities,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during a Thursday press briefing. Lamont said the state maintained its allotments of the formula this week but next week the state will have fewer doses of the J&J vaccine.
Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer, said he did not expect the J&J shortage to significantly derail the state’s vaccination projections, which expect vaccine supply to outpace demand in the next month.
“We still have a lot of vaccine — Moderna and Pfizer — coming in. We’ll be able to stay very busy and largely stay on track with our prior estimates,” he said.
Lamont encouraged residents to avoid fretting about which version of the vaccine they received.
“If you got a chance to get vaccinated, don’t worry about the brand,” he said.
But the decline in the J&J shot is expected to be steep. Next week’s allotment has dropped from 20,000 doses to around 6,000. Geballe said supply could drop to 2,000 the following week. It’s not clear how long the shortage will continue.
“It’s a little bit indefinite right now,” Geballe said. “For the time being, we’ve been told to expect much lower quantities of Johnson & Johnson versus what had previously been indicated.”
The shortage will force public health officials to alter plans to offer college students doses of the single-shot vaccine before they depart campuses for a spring recess and some schools transition to remote learning.
“What we’re going to do is give them at least a first dose of an mRNA vaccine — the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine,” Geballe said. “The governor has been working with the White House and other governors to encourage them to do the same with the logic being that by the time we get to mid-to-late-May, there’s going to be a lot of extra vaccine in all 50 states.”
During the press briefing, Lamont touted the state’s ongoing vaccination effort, which has now seen nearly half of residents age 16 or older receive at least their first shot. On Thursday, roughly 1.4 million residents had gotten a dose.
Geballe said the state was currently vaccinating between 40,000 and 50,000 people each day, but he said there were plenty of slots available.
“If you’ve been holding out, if you’ve been waiting, you didn’t want to wait online or hit refresh a thousand times, this is a good time to get back into the system. You can call 211 and get an appointment on the phone right now or … you can get on many of the providers’ sites or VAMS right now and get appointments locked in for the next week or two,” he said.