WASHINGTON — The third and newest COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out to states this week, after the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.
According to CDC data, the DMV region will receive 125,300 doses. Virginia expects to receive 69,700 doses -- which is the 13th highest distribution across states -- while Maryland will be given 49,600 doses and D.C. is expecting 6,000 shots. Only two states, and U.S. territories will receive fewer doses than the District.
In Maryland, health officials will direct the J&J vaccine allocation widely to mass vaccination sites, hospitals, local health departments, and community health centers. Gov. Larry Hogan said 100% of doses will be distributed to providers this week.
“We continue to follow the science and make vaccinating older Marylanders one of our highest priorities as we work to ensure equitable access to vaccines,” Hogan said. “This will continue to be a long process, but we anticipate more supply coming that will help us increase this pace even further.”
The Virginia Department of Health said Sunday that it is still figuring out where specifically those doses will go, but Mayor Tarter said that if VDH mirrors past distribution, northern Virginia should receive about 25%. VDH said that mass vaccination clinics will get priority.
“[It's] great news for the region, for the state, and for the country," Falls Church Mayor David Tarter said. "We’re really in a race right now for some ways with the virus to make sure it doesn’t continue to mutate.”
Mayor Tarter heads the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which has been advocating for more supply for the region for weeks.
“That is the big restricting factor right now, is just supply," he said. "I think that’s going to loosen up in the next couple of weeks. I think you’ll see a whole lot more supply being delivered.”
D.C. has yet to say how doses will be distributed. Both Virginia and Maryland health officials said an additional shipment of J&J vaccines are expected to be sent to pharmacies participating in the federal retail pharmacy partnership.
“The end is in sight I think, so just hang in there," Mayor Tarter said.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.
Yet the J&J rate is lower than the 95 percent efficacy shown by Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, causing some health officials to worry that the public may try to "vaccine shop."
“All the available vaccines have been proven effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease,” reads the CDC language sent to local health offices. “Getting vaccinated with the first vaccine available to you can help protect you from COVID-19.”
Doctors and public health officials also stress a comparison of the three vaccines cannot be fairly made. Each was evaluated during a different stage of the pandemic, with newer variants circulating during the J&J study.
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