Massachusetts is set to receive more than 100,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine next week, Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday, hours before federal officials announced that about 15 million doses of the vaccine had been unintentionally ruined.
A spokeswoman for the state’s COVID-19 command center said that Massachusetts public health officials had not received any notice from the federal government that the vaccine shipment would be delayed.
“This news does not impact current appointments or allocations for any sites statewide and we remain prepared to work collaboratively with the federal government to avoid any disruption in vaccine shipments,” Kate Reilly said in a statement.
Millions of vaccine doses were made unusable several weeks ago when workers at two Baltimore factories accidentally conflated ingredients used to make the vaccine, US officials said Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Baker had described the 100,000-plus additional doses headed to Massachusetts as a “big deal.”
“We got some very good news from the federal government yesterday with respect to next week,” Baker told reporters after announcing a housing initiative in Quincy.
He said federal officials informed him that 10 million Johnson & Johnson doses will be distributed across the country next week, with 5 million going out through the government’s retail pharmacy program and 5 million being distributed to the states.
“Here in Massachusetts, that’ll be definitely north of 100,000 doses of J&J vaccine, and I can’t tell you how important that is,” Baker said. He added that the additional shipments of the one-dose regimen will allow more Massachusetts residents to get fully vaccinated faster than those who receive the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which require two doses.
“As I’ve said before, thank God Pfizer and Moderna were there when they were there, but the difference between two doses and one dose is not just convenience, it’s also capacity,” Baker said.
“If you think about all the people who you can serve with one dose and not have to schedule a second dose and take up a second seat at some point later on, it basically doubles the amount of capacity that’s available. And in addition to that, the speed with which somebody actually becomes fully vaccinated. One dose plus two weeks is a lot different than two doses plus six weeks.”
Baker said the increase in the number of doses the state will receive represents a “big sign” that the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by the federal government is starting to ramp up. “And we have heard many times that it’s coming, that it’s coming. This is a big sign that things are actually starting to get here.”
“It’s going to be up to us if the federal supply grows to be able to absorb that and make sure we turn it around and get it out,” Baker added. “We’ll do everything we can to make sure we do.”
Since the start of Massachusetts’ campaign to vaccinate its 4.1 million adults, 4,063,570 doses of the three vaccines had been shipped to the state as of Tuesday.
According to data released by the state Tuesday, 3,483,277 doses had been administered in Massachusetts, including 85,520 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The surging number of shots coincides with the expansion in April of eligibility for the coveted appointments.
On Monday, residents 55 and older, as well as people with one of the listed health conditions, will become eligible. All residents 16 and older will by April 19 be able to make appointments.