The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved an extension of the expiration date of the coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, the company said in a statement that the shelf life was extended by six weeks shortly before millions of doses could potentially go to waste.
“The decision is based on data from ongoing stability assessment studies, which showed that the vaccine is stable at 4.5 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36 – 46 degrees Fahrenheit,” Johnson and Johnson said in a statement.
The move gives states extra time to find out how the single-dose vaccine supply can be used, even as local officials have struggled to take stock, which has been facing declining demand recently. Since it was approved by the FDA in late February, it has been a critical resource for reaching more isolated communities and people who prefer to get just one chance.
But the vaccine received a major blow in April when the FDA and CDC recommended an interruption in its use after a rare blood clotting disorder occurred in recipients of the vaccine. State officials said the decision significantly curtailed interest in the vaccine, leaving about ten million doses delivered to states unused. data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of vaccinations has dropped in recent weeks for all three shots approved federally, and the Biden government has shifted its strategy from relying on mass vaccination sites to highlighting more targeted approaches, some with incentives.
Dr Marcus Plescia, who represents state health agencies as the chief medical officer for the Association of Civil Servants and Territorial Health Officers, said last week that he believes each state faces impending expiration dates on the vaccine, prompting local officials to look for ways to exhaust even their limited supply of it.
Ohio Government Mike DeWine on Monday pleaded with health providers in his state to use about 200,000 doses of the vaccine, which he said would expire on June 23. The state Department of Health has instructed providers to adopt a “first-in-first-out process” to ensure that doses with earlier expiration dates are used. first.
Officials across the South, where vaccination figures were lagging behind, were also looking for ways to use tens of thousands of doses in their possession. In Arkansas, officials hope to use as much as possible at pop-up clinics over the weekend, including at Juneteenth, said Dr. José R. Romero, Arkansas’ health secretary.
Dr. Clay Marsh, coronavirus tsar in West Virginia, said Thursday that the state had sufficient supplies of the three vaccines, giving residents plenty of choice between the shots of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. But he said the expansion could breathe some life into the efforts of his state to reach vulnerable people: those with disabilities, those at home or homeless and those with some kind of social instability.
He added that the shot still appealed to people who are wary of two doses of vaccine, and that West Virginia is seeking the vaccination of Johnson & Johnson at summer fairs and festivals and in parks. About 25,000 doses that would expire there this month, he said.
“The J. & J. vaccine in that area is very preferable to me,” he said.
Dr Marsh said he was still wary of having excess doses, even with an extended shelf life, and that the state was talking to the federal government about how they could possibly give it away in a timely manner.