Oregon could end up throwing away 120,000 doses of expiring Johnson & Johnson vaccine if large numbers don’t – OregonLive

Oregon is on pace to throw out 120,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine — possibly more — in the next few months unless a massive wave of Oregonians gets vaccinated against COVID-19 this summer.

The state has 223,000 doses on hand, which at the current rate of vaccinations will take more than 200 days to use. But with less than 53 days before some of that vaccine is apparently set to expire and about 90 days before all of the doses exceed their projected shelf life, the state isn’t expected to come anywhere close to using all of its stock.

“We will do everything we can to get those doses out,” said David Baden, Oregon Health Authority chief financial officer, who is overseeing the vaccine rollout.

State officials are urging all Oregonians who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get a shot of Johnson & Johnson’s one-and-done regimen now, before the vaccines go to waste, and new incentives are already being offered with more to come. They say the federal government prevents states from directly shipping vaccine to other countries, especially poorer ones that are desperately in need, leaving Oregon’s options for reallocating the doses limited.

Oregon’s predicament isn’t as bad as it had seemed as recently as early Thursday morning, however, before Johnson & Johnson announced that the results of stability testing on its vaccine have allowed it to extend expiration dates by six weeks.

Now, instead of tens of thousands of doses in Oregon expiring as early as June 21, it appears those doses will now expire Aug. 5. The last of Oregon’s stock on hand will expire Sept. 15.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was previously thought to be good for three months at refrigerator temperatures, but Thursday the company said it’ll last for at least 4.5 months. The news comes as states across the nation are coming to grips with a harsh reality of vaccine oversupply amid paltry and plummeting demand in the United States.

Many states have used less than half their Johnson & Johnson doses. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that even with the expiration date extension, some states are on track to toss out more than 100,000 doses.

Oregon is in a worse predicament than some, with only about 40% of its Johnson & Johnson doses used so far. The CDC distributed Johnson & Johnson vaccine by population, but Oregon in late May also asked for and received an extra 65,000 doses from Texas because the Lone Star State said it wouldn’t use any of that vaccine, according to Baden.

All of the Texas shipment had been set to expire by July 1, but now will be good until mid-August.

Baden said the Texas doses will help the state provide Johnson & Johnson doses to new vaccination sites.

Baden said the 158,000 doses Oregon already had on hand had already been distributed to more than 660 pharmacies and other vaccination sites across the state, with about 240 doses on average sitting in refrigerators at each vaccination site. He said the state could have re-distributed that vaccine instead of accepting Texas’ donation, but that would have been difficult.

“We have done a little bit of moving around, but the logistics of doing that widespread, and couriers — moving small doses from Umatilla County to Tillamook County — is not super easy,” Baden said.

Instead, Oregon has tapped the Texas supply to send doses to new sites, including the Oregon Convention Center walk-in site and Portland International Airport’s drive-thru site, which are set to close on June 19 and June 25 respectively.

Although the state earlier this spring said Oregon would continue asking the federal government for its full allocations of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, demand has since significantly declined and the state in mid-May started downsizing its orders of both. But the state has been eager to get its hands on as much Johnson & Johnson vaccine as possible, even though it’s been administering only about 1,100 doses per day over the past week and had not been on track to use anywhere close to its existing supply.

The vaccine is favored by a portion of Americans because it requires only one shot to reach full vaccination status instead of two shots, spread weeks apart, like those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. That makes it an easier sell for people unsettled by hypodermic needles and useful for vaccinating hard-to-reach or mobile populations, such as people experiencing homelessness, college students and inmates.

So far, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only has made up a small portion of Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccine supply — about 375,000 doses, which amounts to about 7% of the more than 5.5 million delivered to the state. Pfizer vaccine accounts for 53% of the state’s supply and Moderna 40%.

Although the state is struggling with an oversupply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, officials are worried they might not have any supply after the last of the state stock expires in mid-September. That’s because a Maryland factory producing the vaccine had to halt production in April because of manufacturing mistakes. The plan had been for the factory to start supplying Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the United States in late spring, but the production problems have meant all of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivered to states has been from overseas. And that supply ran dry last month.

But trying to use its existing supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the immediate problem for Oregon. Baden said the state is working on ways to increase Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, including sending out more mobile vaccination vans to reach people in the community.

Baden said Gov. Kate Brown also plans to announce more incentives Friday that the state hopes will increase vaccination numbers. As of Thursday, about 67% of adults had been at least partially vaccinated. That translates to 54% across the general population, when counting all age groups. Nearly 47% of Oregon’s general population has been fully vaccinated.

Among promotions already announced, Portland International Airport’s site on Saturday will give $100 gift cards to Fred Meyer or Safeway on a first-come basis to people who show up for Johnson & Johnson doses or a first dose of the two-dose regimen of Pfizer or Moderna. Also on Saturday — and if supplies last, on June 16 and 19 — the Oregon Convention Center will offer the $100 grocery gift cards to the first Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients. Organizers will hand out 1,500 gift cards in all.

To learn if a local vaccine provider has Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hand, officials suggest calling and asking — if that information isn’t already listed on informational materials from the provider. Oregonians can search for Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccination sites across the state by ZIP code by visiting www.getvaccinated.oregon.gov/#/locator. The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are approved for ages 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12 and older.

To see vaccine and coronavirus data and trends, visit https://projects.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/

Mark Friesen contributed to this report.

— Aimee Green; [email protected]; @o_aimee

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Oregon could end up throwing away 120,000 doses of expiring Johnson & Johnson vaccine if large numbers don’t – OregonLive

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