On April 15, California will expand vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 or older, but the expansion comes as state health officials expect to see a drastic drop in the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The single-shot vaccine was quick and convenient, but the state is expected to see about a 90% drop in the number of Johnson & Johnson shots it receives next week, about the same time millions more Californians will be eligible to get the vaccine.
The state expects the number of those single-dose vaccines to drop from 575,000 to 68,000 next week. That means California will receive an estimated 2 million vaccines, down from the 2.4 million received this week.
In published reports, the state has refused to give explanation for the drop and has directed all questions to the federal government.
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At least two other states, Maine and Delaware have reported a similar cut in Johnson & Johnson doses in just the past few hours.
Last week Johnson & Johnson issued a statement regarding the quality of a batch of vaccines being made at a production facility near Baltimore, explaining the batch did not meet the company’s quality standards and was "never advanced to the filling and finishing stages of our manufacturing process."
But thanks to planning, Alameda County officials say that their county still has enough doses to meet the needs of current appointments.
Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s Director of Vaccinations said they have the capacity to dole out 200,000 shots per week. But they are only getting 60,000 to 70,000 doses from the state.
“The state, who were talking to every weeks says the formula for this is based on geography and population, so we should be getting our due share of the vaccines that are available to the state, we are a very large county, with nearly 2 million people,” he said.
Dr. Fenstersheib said the bottom line for anyone trying to get an appointment is to be patient and keep trying. He declined to comment on what happened with the Johnson & Johnson dose drop.
The state has no plans to delay expanding vaccine eligibility because of the supply shortage, and mass vaccinations sites are increasing their staffing in preparation for a spike in demand.