Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Virginia

Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says by Thursday, Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be distributed across the commonwealth. Two thousand doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine are already in the Blue Ridge Health District and will be administered on Friday.

“We are quickly moving to a scenario where supply is going to be here in a really significant way and we need to maximize the channels,” he said.

Dr. Avula says the initial push to get Johnson & Johnson vaccines administered is going to be tremendous.

“What you will see starting Friday are large-scale events, 1,000 person a day, up to 5,000 people in an event,” he said. “All of our health districts and many of our health systems are receiving Johnson & Johnson and committed to doing some pretty large-scale events so we should have a huge turnout from Friday to about Monday or Tuesday.”

Dr. Avula says they will have enough vaccines to get a good head start.

“What the feds are saying right now is that they had about 2.8 million doses to distribute across the country, 69,000 of that was Virginia’s share,” he said. “Another almost 22,000 doses of J&J will be going to the retail pharmacies.”

Dr. Avula says Virginia will start to see an uptick in Johnson & Johnson doses delivered in late March.

“We’re anticipating that there will be somewhere around 100,000 doses,” he said.

He anticipates that number will pick up even more come April.

“So pretty quickly here J&J is going to become 20% to 30% of our overall allocation,” Dr. Avula said.

The shot is much more low-maintenance than Pfizer and Moderna. It only requires one dose and does not need to be frozen.

“First and foremost, it’s a single-dose vaccine, as opposed to the two doses with Moderna and Pfizer, which I think at some point will really allow for some flexibility and some optimal use in certain populations where it might be difficult to bring people back,” Dr. Avula said.

In addition to the Johnson & Johnson rollout, Moderna and Pfizer supply continually improves, showing a light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Avula estimates every adult who wants to be vaccinated could have a first dose by the end of May.

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