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CDC: New York's supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to plummet after manufacturing issues

Asie Late sits for her shot of the

Asie Late sits for her shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as granddaughter Emma watches. Deliveries of the one-dose vaccine are expected to decline next week. Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

New York’s allocation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will plummet next week from nearly 300,000 doses to fewer than 35,000, as the effect of a massive mix-up at a Baltimore plant begins to affect the supply nationwide.

New York outside New York City will receive only 19,800 doses of the one-dose vaccine the week beginning Monday, compared with 167,600 the week that started April 5.

New York City will get only 15,100 doses, compared with 127,200, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Johnson & Johnson destroyed about 15 million vaccine doses after it was discovered that the large batch produced for it by Emergent BioSolutions in a Baltimore factory did not meet the company’s quality standards.

The COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is delivered in one dose, while the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna formulations require two doses, spaced several weeks apart to be completed.

The New York Times has reported that Emergent had mixed up ingredients for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with those from a vaccine from AstraZeneca that hasn’t yet received authorization for use in the United States.

The distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had fluctuated wildly, from 164,800 doses statewide the first week it was available, the week of March 1, to 22,700 the week of March 15, to 115,700 the week of March 29.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Friday that the drop in doses means that "while no appointments should have to be canceled, we will not be able to get as many shots into New Yorkers' arms as we would like. We hope the production issues are resolved as soon as possible, and that production ramps up quickly so we can expand the number of New Yorkers who are vaccinated."

Meanwhile, Pfizer-BioNTech announced Friday it is seeking emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration to expand eligibility for its vaccine to be authorized for adolescents ages 12 through 15. They would become the youngest group yet eligible for COVID-19 shots in the United States.

The anticipated Johnson & Johnson shortage was already having an impact in the region.

St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue had a Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic scheduled with Walgreens on Tuesday that was canceled, college spokeswoman Jessica McAleer Decatur said.

"Walgreens is working with us to get another clinic scheduled" with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, she said.

But Adelphi University in Garden City announced that starting Friday it will administer 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccinations to its current students.

This initial allocation of vaccines from New York State was arranged by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

Adelphi is the only Long Island member of the commission — which represents more than 100 private, nonprofit institutions statewide — that received part of the allocation of 15,000 Johnson & Johnson doses that the commission received from the state, said Emily Morgese, vice president for communications and board governance for the Albany-based body.

Colleges must be part of the state’s immunization system to receive and administer vaccines, and "we are working with all of our members to get as many as possible qualified to administer vaccines in the hopes that the state continues to prioritize doses for college students," Morgese said in an email.

Other member institutions of the commission that are on Long Island or have a Long Island campus include Hofstra University, Long Island University, Molloy College, the New York Institute of Technology, St. Joseph’s College, the Webb Institute and the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Seeking 'fast path' to end pandemic

Six hundred doses of Johnson & Johnson will be administered to Farmingdale State College students next week and another 600 doses to SUNY Old Westbury students, SUNY Old Westbury spokesman Michael Kinane said Friday.

"We are encouraging all of our students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated," he said. "The vaccines have created what we hope will be a fast path to the end of the pandemic and to a more fully open campus for fall."

Stony Brook University began vaccinating students on Tuesday, officials there said.

That’s part of the 21,000 vaccine doses — most of them from Johnson & Johnson — that 38 SUNY campuses statewide are receiving for administration this week and next, SUNY systemwide spokeswoman Holly Liapis said. Stony Brook is receiving 1,500 Johnson & Johnson doses, and Suffolk Community College is getting 1,000, she said.

"SUNY Chancellor [Jim] Malatras and his team have worked to get additional doses reserved, which will be sent in installments over the next several weeks," Liapis said. "Despite the temporary supply shortage, we are confident we will get more." She said a one-shot vaccine "is an ideal option for our residential students before they leave for the summer break."

Suffolk: 'Zero for next week'

Suffolk County received 1,700 Johnson & Johnson doses this week, but "we’re expecting zero for next week," county spokesman Derek Poppe said.

Anticipating the Johnson & Johnson shortage, "We did save enough of the 1,700 for this week to be able to continue our allocations for jails and homebound individuals next week," he said. "We expect to receive more J&J, not next week but the following week."

The county is using Johnson & Johnson primarily for homebound people — 100 are being vaccinated this week and another 100 next week — as well as jail inmates and homeless people, because of the difficulty in some cases of scheduling a second dose, Poppe said.

In addition, the county vaccinated 300 people at a Bay Shore mosque with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Thursday, he said. Suffolk Chief Deputy County Executive Lisa Black said this week that the vaccination was timed before Ramadan begins next week.

The county has used the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at its mass vaccination sites.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran Friday called the expected shortage "a setback" but said "Nassau is on great footing, and this will not slow us down."

As of Friday morning, 43% of Nassau residents had received at least one dose of vaccines for COVID-19.

"We have gotten to this percentage without a significant supply of J&J," Curran said. "When we do receive J&J, it will be used strategically to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations and in our pods. In the meantime, we are not wasting time as we continue to get doses into arms with the Moderna vaccines."

In Suffolk, close to 36% of residents had been vaccinated by Friday morning.

Michael Lanza, a spokesman for New York City’s health department, said the city is preparing for two weeks of reduced supply of Johnson & Johnson shots.

Cuomo also announced 16 new pop-up vaccination sites opening in underserved communities over the next week in the state, including one on Long Island. The sites will vaccinate at least 7,100 people.

The local site will be at the Roosevelt Library, 27 W. Fulton Ave., on April 14 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Vaccinations will be by appointment only.

The state has run more than 200 temporary pop-up sites with more than 77,000 first doses injected, Cuomo said.

Slight decline in virus positivity

New York saw slight declines in positivity for COVID-19 while confirmed case numbers on Long Island came down from a spike the previous day, state data issued Friday showed.

The statewide seven-day average in positivity levels was 3.37% in test results as of Thursday, down from 3.40% and 3.48% the previous two days. The daily level on Thursday was 2.96% out of 304,956 test results on Thursday.

On Long Island, the seven-day average fell to 4.15% on Thursday from 4.28% and 4.27% the previous two days.

The number of new confirmed cases dropped to 668 in Nassau County on Thursday, down from 810 the previous day, which was the highest daily count since Feb. 12. In Suffolk, the number of new confirmed cases dropped to 731 on Thursday, down from 925 the previous day. That was also a high not seen since early February. New York City had 4,368 positives for the day.

Across the state, 56 people died of COVID-19-related causes on Thursday, including seven in Nassau and five in Suffolk.

With AP, Matthew Chayes and Carol Polsky


Who qualifies for COVID-19 shots?

The State of New York has expended its eligibility list for vaccines against COVID-19 several times, expanding the groups of people included in the phases. This is a summary of the eligible groups. The following are the qualifying categories, as revised on March 29.

Group in Phase 1A

The state said about 2.1 million state residents belong in this group, including:

  • Health care workers at hospitals who interact with patients.
  • Residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • Dentists, psychologists and others deemed health care workers with direct contact with patients.
  • Employees of Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • EMT volunteers and staff.
  • Coroners, medical examiners, some funeral workers.
  • Staff and residents of state facilities for people with developmental disabilities, mental health care and addiction services.
  • Employees at urgent care centers.
  • Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff.
  • Staff at ambulatory centers.
  • Home care and hospice workers.
  • Residents and staff at other congregate care facilities.

Group in Phase 1B

The state estimated about 3.2 million residents belong in this group, including:

  • People 75 years of age and older.
  • Teachers and education workers, including in-person college instructors, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff, support staff, contractors in schools and bus drivers.
  • First responders, including police; firefighters; state police; sheriff’s offices; county, town and village police departments, and other law enforcement offices.
  • Public safety workers, including dispatchers and technicians.
  • Public transit workers, including airport, railroad, subway, bus, ferry and Port Authority employees.
  • Corrections officers.
  • Other sworn and civilian personnel, such as court and peace officers.
  • Grocery store workers dealing with the public.
  • Individuals living in homeless shelters.

Following federal recommendations:

Added at the discretion of local governments:

  • Taxi drivers.
  • Restaurant workers.
  • Residents of facilities for developmentally disabled people.
  • Hotel workers who interact with the public.

Other expansions of eligibility:

  • State residents age 60 and older (Since March 10, 2021).
  • “Public-facing” government and public employees (Since March 17, 2021).
  • Workers for not-for-profit organizations who provide “public-facing” services (Since March 17, 2021).
  • Building service workers who are “public-facing” employees (Since March 17, 2021).
  • State residents age 50 and older (Since March 23, 2021).

Since March 30, 2021:

Since April 6, 2021:

SOURCE: New York State, Northwell Health.

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