First Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Administered in Massachusetts

The single-shot doses arrived Tuesday at Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center

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The Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID vaccine was given out for the first time in Massachusetts Thursday at Tufts Medical Center.

Both Tufts and Boston Medical Center received their initial supply of the single-dose vaccine - approximately 2,000 each - on Tuesday.

Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez of Tufts Medical Center said the new vaccine is part of the larger effort to control the pandemic.

The coronavirus "is not going to disappear, but it will stay with us probably for a long time (and) we want to convert it into a common cold," she said. "The way we can do that is to make sure everyone gets vaccinated" with any of the vaccines approved by the federal government.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the state received a total of around 58,000 doses, most of which have been allocated for health care providers. Massachusetts isn't expected to get large quantities of the vaccine on a regular basis until the end of March or early April.

"That's obviously not what we wanted to hear in the short term," Baker said. "But having a safe and highly effective vaccine that's only a single dose will make an enormous difference, once it's widely available, in speeding up the vaccination process and we all know how high the demand is for vaccines generally."

Boston Medical Center said only that it will begin using the doses this week. Mass General Brigham was expecting to receive doses some time this week as well.

The emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine means that there are now three COVID-19 vaccines in circulation. And the J&J shot differs from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in some important ways that may make it a game changer. NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres joined LX News to explain.

Johnson & Johnson's one-dose shot became the third to receive emergency use authorization from the United States' Food and Drug Administration over the weekend.

Baker said Monday that he is optimistic that the Johnson & Johnson will "dramatically boost" the effort to get more Massachusetts residents protected against COVID-19.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, he said, will give Massachusetts "the ability to do certain kinds of things that would be hard to do now."

"The introduction of that vaccine over time will certainly dramatically boost our vaccination efforts here and the vaccination efforts in so many other places," Baker said. "Having another effective vaccine for all eligible residents produced by a third manufacturer should mean a big increase in the number of vaccines that are available for first doses or single doses."

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