U.S. health officials aren’t allocating any additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for next week, as a Baltimore contract manufacturer that’s the key supplier of the shots in the country remains under scrutiny for serious quality lapses.
But many states still have remaining supplies of the J&J vaccine because its use was paused for 11 days while health officials investigated unusual blood clots in a tiny number of the millions of vaccine recipients, federal officials said during a call with governors this week.
In Maryland, the health department said it was told it may not receive additional J&J shots in coming weeks either. The department said in a statement it’s asking providers to use about 88,000 remaining doses of the shots.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has so far accounted for a small percentage of the overall supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. Those were made at a company-owned factory in the Netherlands.
The J&J vaccine has the advantage of requiring just one dose that can be stored in regular refrigerators, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which must be kept frozen and require two doses a few weeks apart.
Because of its versatility, local officials would like to see shipments of the J&J vaccine resume eventually, said Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. .
Johnson & Johnson declined to comment on the supply issues, but said it’s focused on trying to win clearance of the Emergent BioSolutions factory after the Food and Drug Administration ordered the plant shut down four weeks ago due to serious quality problems. In a statement, Emergent BioSolutions said it has responded to the FDA with a comprehensive quality enhancement plan.