Troubled Maryland plant told to toss part of the J&J vaccine ingredient it manufactured

By: - June 11, 2021 4:48 pm

Vials of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. (NBC12)

States are already scrambling to use up millions of Johnson & Johnson doses set to expire within the next few weeks. In Virginia, health officials reported at least 42,300 unused doses amid a sharp dropoff in demand for all vaccines.

Those doses were initially set to expire on June 23, according to Melissa Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Health. But on Thursday, the FDA announced it was extending the shelf life of Johnson & Johnson vaccines — which originally ended after three months of storage — by about a month and a half.

That gives states more time to redistribute the doses, though it’s unclear whether demand can keep up. Virginia has administered far fewer doses of Johnson & Johnson that it has of Pfizer or Moderna, according to VDH data. Administrations struggled to recover after federal agencies ordered a temporary pause on the vaccine as they investigated rare reports of serious blood clots before resuming use of the vaccine.

As of June 9, administrations of Johnson & Johnson doses in Virginia dropped to zero. Gordon said the state developed a survey for providers and compared it with new vaccine orders in an effort to redistribute some of the unused doses. “Four redistributions amounting to approximately 3,225 doses have been coordinated,” she wrote in a Thursday email.

If the roughly 39,000 remaining doses aren’t used in the next month and a half, though, they’ll likely be thrown away.

“All providers who dispose of doses in this manner are required to report them to VDH so that VDH is able to keep track of this data,” Gordon wrote.

Mercury reporter Kate Masters contributed to this article. 

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Laura Olson
Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Virginia Mercury. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.