The U.S. government has halted new shipments of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, state and federal health officials say, one of several steps federal agencies have taken that could help clear a backlog of doses unused before they expire.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped providing the single-dose vaccine to states, state and federal health officials said. The shutdown would be temporary, some of those officials said.
“It just wasn’t included in our weekly allowances, from the federal government, which means it’s not available to order,” Oklahoma Department of Health Deputy Commissioner said. , Keith Reed.
The move comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has separately extended the shelf life of J & J’s vaccine to 4.5 months, from three months when refrigerated, the drugmaker said Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the Arkansas State Department of Health said she was told no doses were available to order due to issues with the manufacture of the vaccine.
It has not been possible to determine why the federal government has suspended shipments, but comes at a time when health officials are pushing for the use of doses of J&J stored before they expire.
A spokesperson for J&J did not respond to a request for comment on the government’s decision to limit the availability of its vaccine to states.
Just over half of the approximately 21 million doses of J&J distributed in the United States have been administered, a lower percentage than the injections of Pfizer. Inc.
and Moderna Inc.,
According to the CDC.
Hospital and state officials said they had multiple doses of J&J expiring later this month, in part because of the U.S. decision in April to temporarily suspend administration of doses of J&J to assess risk of a rare blood clot.
The hiatus forced states and suppliers to cancel large blocks of appointments that were never rescheduled and left a supply surplus and, in some areas, increased hesitation over the safety of the J&J vaccine. .
The J&J vaccine was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February after researchers found it effective in a large-scale trial to protect against symptomatic Covid-19.
While its effectiveness was slightly lower than that of Pfizer and Moderna injections, public health officials and vaccine experts had high hopes for the injection’s role in the vaccination campaign, as it was a single injection and required fewer cold chain restrictions.
J&J stores the frozen doses until they are shipped by the government, after which they are refrigerated. This is when the countdown begins for the expiration.
State health officials said they had not been able to order new doses of the J&J vaccine since mid-May. The CDC has restricted orders for the J&J vaccine, the federal health official said.
Maryland last ordered doses of J&J several weeks ago and the government has since been advised by the government that the vaccine was not available, the Maryland Department of Health Assistant Secretary said, Bryan Mroz, in an interview. Federal officials said the J&J shot would be available again, but did not say when that would be, he said.
“We used our inventory in the state,” Mr. Mroz. “We certainly have more supply than demand. ”
Mr. Mroz said some doses will expire at the end of June and others in July and that the state is working to redistribute some to providers who request them.
States such as Wisconsin and Oklahoma have asked the federal government for advice on what to do with expired doses.
During much of the deployment, states and vendors were ordered by states and the federal government to dispose of unused doses after their expiration date. Recently, some states have reported receiving conflicting information.
Mr Mroz said in an interview that the CDC on Tuesday recommended that the state set aside expiring J&J doses in storage as the agency waited to learn from federal government reviews whether shelf life can be prolonged. But he said the CDC then changed those guidelines on Wednesday and suggested that expired doses should still be thrown away.
—Thomas M. Burton and Julie Wernau contributed to this article.
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