California To Get Big Boost In COVID-19 Vaccine Supply –

California To Get Big Boost In COVID-19 Vaccine Supply

Federal officials expect a large influx of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, which will provide an arm injection to the national supply as several states, including California, prepare to make appointments more available to adults.

Somewhere close to 11 million Johnson & Johnson doses are expected to be delivered next week, a huge amount compared to what’s shipped to date, according to Jeff Zients, coordinator of the COVID-19 task force. of President Biden.

“The company has said that it will deliver the 20 million [doses] by the end of March, ”he said during a briefing on Friday, referring to a public production target. “And, from our discussions with the company, they are on track to reach that goal with at least 11 million doses delivered next week.”

As soon as those doses are available to the federal government, he added, “in turn, we will make them available for delivery to our state, local and federal partners.”

Johnson & Johnson, he noted, “is still in its early stages of manufacture” compared to the other vaccines available from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, “and will, over time, achieve a more regular weekly cadence.”

It’s unclear how many of those extra doses would make it to California, but any significant increase has the potential to greatly accelerate the launch of the vaccine in the state.

While the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses, administered three and four weeks apart, respectively, Johnson & Johnson involves only one.

Despite the promise of the vaccine, its administration has been delayed until now due to production problems.

As of Friday morning, 589,300 doses of Johnson & Johnson had been delivered to California and 279,788 had been administered, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, just over 2.7 million people have been fully inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is also known as Janssen.

California officials heralded the increase in supply Thursday by announcing an imminent and dramatic expansion of the state’s vaccine eligibility.

Residents age 50 and older can get vaccinated starting Thursday, and all Californians 16 and older will be eligible starting April 15.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the decision to open the doors for widespread access was based on expected increases in vaccine supplies, including doses from Johnson & Johnson.

“Our ability to do more has always been limited by supply, manufactured supply,” he said during a news conference in Santa Ana. “We are confident, now, that manufactured supply will be available sooner than we had anticipated.”

Recently, California has received only about 1.8 million total doses of COVID-19 vaccine per week. But officials said the state expects about 2.5 million doses per week to be assigned to it during the first half of April, with that number rising to more than 3 million doses later in the month.

However, even with shipments of that size, officials warn that it will likely take months to provide a vaccine to all Californians who want one.

However, Newsom said the short-term outlook for universal adult eligibility shows that “there is not only light at the end of the tunnel; there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel ”when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

To date, providers throughout California have administered nearly 16 million total doses, and 27.2% of residents have received at least one injection, according to data compiled by The Times.

During the past week, an average of 371,008 injections per day were distributed statewide.

Getting significantly more doses is one thing, being able to manage them is another.

Through an extensive provider network that includes local public health departments, pharmacies, care consortia, and other qualified health centers, California has achieved its goal of being able to administer 4 million doses per week, according to Blue Shield of California, that the state has contracted to manage its vaccine network.

“We can handle more than that, frankly,” Blue Shield president Paul Markovich said in an interview Friday.

He said the capacity includes all providers that have signed contracts to be part of the statewide vaccine network.

“There are another 3 million capacity that can ultimately be contracted and added,” he said. “So there is a lot of capacity to administer the vaccine.”

As of Friday, 20 counties had agreed to be part of that state network, according to a spokesman for the state department of public health. And Markovich said “we are on our way” for the remaining counties to sign.

Almost half of all Californians are already eligible for the vaccine. That includes adults 65 and older, healthcare workers, educators, people who are incarcerated or living in homeless shelters, essential workers like those in the food industry or emergency services, public transportation workers and janitors. , and residents 16 and older who have certain disabilities. or underlying health conditions.

However, even with widespread eligibility just a few weeks away, some providers are moving faster than the state’s schedule.

Officials for the city of Long Beach, which has its own health department, opened vaccine eligibility Thursday to city residents who are at least 50 years old.

Additionally, at least four California counties have already lowered the age threshold to 50 and one lowered it to 45. Some counties have further expanded eligibility for health conditions beyond state specifications.

Times staff writers Melody Gutierrez, Colleen Shalby, and Laura J. Nelson contributed to this report.

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