The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized an extension of the expiration date for the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, the company said in a statement, extending the shelf life to six weeks shortly before millions of doses are eventually lost.
“The decision is based on data from ongoing stability assessment studies, which have shown that the vaccine is stable at 4.5 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Johnson & Johnson in a statement.
The move gives states more time to figure out how to use the single-dose vaccine supply, even though local officials have struggled to use vaccine stocks, which has recently faced weakening demand. Since being cleared by the FDA in late February, it has been a critical resource in reaching more isolated communities and people who prefer to receive just one injection. But about ten million doses shipped to states go unused, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the pace of vaccinations has declined in recent weeks, the extra time may not result in a significant increase in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. The vaccine took a hard hit in April when the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in its use after a rare blood clotting disorder occurred in vaccine recipients. State officials said the move significantly reduced interest in the vaccine.
Dr Marcus Plescia, who represents state health agencies as the chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territory Health Officials, said last week he believes every state faces with imminent vaccine expiration dates, prompting local officials to look for ways to deplete even their limited supply.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Monday pleaded with health care providers in his state to use about 200,000 doses of the vaccine that he said was due to expire on June 23. The state health department has asked providers to adopt a “first in, first out” shot to ensure that doses with earlier expiration dates are used first.
Authorities in the south, where vaccination rates are lagging behind, have also looked for ways to use tens of thousands of doses in their possession. In Arkansas, authorities hope to use as much as possible during weekend pop-up clinics, including June 17, said Dr. José R. Romero, Arkansas health secretary.
West Virginia coronavirus czar Dr Clay Marsh said Thursday the state has an adequate supply of all three federally licensed vaccines, giving residents a wide choice. But he said the extension could breathe some life into his state’s efforts to continue reaching vulnerable people: people with disabilities, those who are homebound or homeless and those suffering from some sort of disease. social instability.
He added that the vaccine still attracted people who were wary of two doses of the vaccine and that West Virginia was looking to offer Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at summer fairs and festivals and in parks. About 25,000 doses were due to expire this month, he said.
“The J.&J vaccine in these settings is, I think, highly preferable,” he said.
Dr Marsh said he was still concerned about overdosing even with an extended shelf life, and the state was discussing with the federal government how to give them on time.