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Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Utah next week if approved

(This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows the investigational Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Cheryl Gerber, Johnson & Johnson via Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could be in the arms of Utahns by next week. It’s very good news for Utah health officials. On Friday, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee unanimously recommended the authorization of the vaccine. Once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ship to Utah. 

“A third authorized vaccine tells me that even through some of our darkest times, miracles still happen, ” said Gov. Spencer Cox Froday. “This is a testament to modern research, science, public health and medicine. We are in a race to save as many lives as possible through vaccines. This vaccine will do that. Remember, all three vaccines are safe and effective. You can have confidence that any of them will protect you and those around you from COVID-19.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized for people age 18 and up. 

Hiccups with Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine approval 

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine still has some hurdles to clear before that happens, but state health officials have an estimate on when they could be administered here. 

The FDA announced the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson meets all of the requirements needed to receive its emergency use authorization. However, there are some things that need to happen before it can be rolled out to the nation. 

Utah Immunizations Director Rich Lakin and members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are planning to meet this weekend to discuss this pending approval.

He believes the new vaccine will go a long way in helping limit the severity of COVID-19.

“It’s very convenient for people to get it since they don’t have to worry about getting a second appointment.  Let’s not forget, it’s very effective against severe illness,” Lakin said.

However, the Utah Department of Health is in constant communication with the CDC, and, if the approval is granted, state officials know when they’d get the first shipment.

Lakin relayed, “We’re anticipating in Utah to get just over 33,000 doses come March 8th.”  He added that the state expects to receive that amount every week.

The next step is to figure out where those doses are going to go. They’re working with local health departments to decide how many should go to the high-throughput vaccination centers, and how many should go to local clinics and pharmacies.

“[We will determine] the best use of that vaccine and here’s how we’re going to allocate out those thousands of doses for this week, making sure that they’re utilized within the governor’s directive of every seven days,” according to Lakin.

The high-throughput vaccination centers are able to distribute one thousand doses per day. Lakin reported all health departments are working to ensure they have enough staff and enough supplies to handle the increased number of vaccines.