California expects about 90% fewer Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses next week, marking a marked drop in the total number of doses that will lead to fewer first-time appointments, though the state extends eligibility to any resident over 16 on April 15.
State health officials expect the allotment of COVID-19 vaccines to drop by 367,000 doses next week to about 2 million in total, down from about 2.4 million doses received this week, said California Department of Public Health spokesman Darrel Ng said Wednesday night. Doses are expected to drop again to approx. 1.9 million the week after next.
The entire reduction consists of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, said Ng, which will shrink 88% from 575,000 doses this week to approx. 68,000 next week. Ng declined to comment on the matter in addition to confirming the allotment numbers and addressed other questions about the reasons for the supply̵
Last week, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that a batch of the vaccine, manufactured at Emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore facility, did not meet the company’s quality standards and was “never advanced to the filling and finishing steps of our manufacturing process.”
In Santa Clara County, Blue Shield health officials said late Wednesday that the allocation would slow down next week, County Executive Jeff Smith said, but has not confirmed exactly how much. Although the state expects a small increase in both Pfizer and Moderna doses next week, counties must first schedule second-dose appointments, meaning those who have not yet received a dose may be out of luck for weeks.
“With the reduced amount of J&J, it will lower new first doses significantly,” Smith said.
Officials in Contra Costa County – which opened vaccines to all 16 and older in late March – also expect a marked drop in vaccination allocations. Supervisor John Gioia, who is also on the board of the California State Association of Counties, said the interruption “will disappoint many people who expect to be vaccinated soon.”
“We are concerned that this drop in supply will delay our ability to run beyond the new more highly contagious COVID-19 variants,” he said.
San Mateo County Health also expects a “significant reduction” in vaccine doses from the state, department head Louise Rogers said in a statement, though an increase in supply is expected by the end of April. San Mateo County is receiving 11,450 doses, down from 17,420 the previous week, though those numbers do not include doses delivered by Blue Shield directly to Stanford Health, Gellert Health and Safeway pharmacies.
“With this allocation, we are able to administer second-dose clinics this week and have scaled down plans for first-dose clinics,” she said.
In California, the steep decline in supply comes just days before the state plans to open eligibility to anyone over the age of 16 on April 15 – and a day after Gavin Newsom’s government announced a dramatic reopening plan that relies in part on vaccine supply. The plan would complete the current differentiated county reopening system on June 15 and allow virtually all businesses across the country to resume full-capacity operations both indoors and outdoors.
Announcing the plan Tuesday, Newsom said he did not expect state vaccine allocations to increase significantly until May, but did not suggest the possibility that supplies would decline.
He acknowledged, however, that it would take some time to get vaccinated for all Californians in the extended eligibility pool for a number of weeks, perhaps over a month. ”
Co-author Leonardo Castañeda contributed to this report.