Alabama expects to get more than 40,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines in first week of March

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile County Health Department has some good news when it comes to the state receiving additional Covid-19 vaccines.

The department reports the average number of Coronavirus vaccines in Alabama is up to 140,000 doses which is almost twice as the state was receiving just a few weeks ago.

The large increase is partly due to the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Mobile County Health Department Epidemiologist and Director of Disease Surveillance Dr. Rendi Murphree said Alabama will get more than 40,000 doses of the one-shot vaccine in the first week of March, but after the first shipment, she said she is unsure when the state will get more. Dr. Murphree said, “This will be sort of a one-time allotment, not sure when the state will get more Johnson and Johnson vaccine.”

One big benefit of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it can be stored at a higher temperature. Dr. Murphree explained because it only needs a normal refrigerated temperature, more providers may be able to offer this version of the vaccine. She said, “It won’t be used to target a specific population. What the state health department has been doing is they kind of have a grouped approach to providers, so when Pfizer came out it required that minus 80 cold storage, so mostly hospitals had that capacity, so the Pfizer vaccine went to them.”

As of March 1st, Dr. Murphree reported more than 920,000 vaccines have been administered across the state. The number is comprised of a mixture of first and second doses given.

New changes with the Pfizer vaccine could also help with distribution. Dr. Murphree said, “The FDA is allowing undiluted, frozen vials of Pfizer vaccine to be transported and stored at conventional temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers for a period of up to two weeks.”

Dr. Murphree said the change from the FDA could mean more providers could soon be able to order and receive the Pfizer vaccine. She said, “it’s good news because we’ve heard that Pfizer has been ramping up production of their vaccine.”

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