Big Shipment of J&J Vaccine ‘Not in Jeopardy,' But Amount of Future Doses Remains Unclear

"We know we're getting this 100,000, but then J&J for us going forward in the next few weeks is under review right now," Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said

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Massachusetts should still receive 100,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reported manufacturing issues, but the outlook in following weeks is still under review, Baker administration officials said Thursday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders told reporters the shipment promised for next week is "not in jeopardy" despite J&J announcing late Wednesday that one batch "did not meet quality standards."



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News reports estimated that about 15 million doses were discarded.

"We know we're getting this 100,000, but then J&J for us going forward in the next few weeks is under review right now," Sudders said after touring a vaccination site at La Colaborativa in Chelsea with Gov. Charlie Baker and local officials. "We don't know if that's part of what's been the manufacturing issue."

The administration plans to push out the burst of Johnson & Johnson doses through existing channels such as regional collaboratives, community health centers, and its homebound and low-income senior housing programs, Sudders said.

Johnson and Johnson says their "quality control" process identified a batch of their vaccine that did not meet their standards, and it had to be discarded. The pharmaceutical company did not say how large the single batch was, but the New York Times reported 15 million doses have been ruined.

Baker called it a "shame" to lose so many doses given the country's race to get more people inoculated amid growing presence of more infectious COVID-19 variants, though he said the disposal also reflects the strength of the review process.

"The J&J stuff has been lumpy," he said. "We were really excited there was finally a move upward on the J&J. We know what it is next week, but we don't know what's after that. We don't know yet what the impact of that was or even what the denominator is in terms of how much vaccination their producing at this point."

The governor said he is glad to see trials showing the Pfizer vaccine is effective in children ages 12 to 15 but noted that Massachusetts will wait for federal guidance on this issue.

Pfizer says a clinical trial shows its coronavirus vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in kids between the ages of 12-15. If it was authorized, would parents vaccinate their children? NBC10 Boston medical reporter Kristy Lee reports.

"That's a perfect example of something where the firms from the trials seem to promote the positive results more quickly and loudly than they promote results that aren't so positive," Baker said. "My view is we should wait and hear what the feds have to say about this."

With Easter coming up this weekend and Passover having started last week, state officials also warned Thursday against large family holiday gatherings.

"We know these holidays are very important to people and a very significant opportunity for folks to gather with family and friends," Baker said. "But these celebrations, in many respects, really do need to look a little different this year than in past years."

He urged people to celebrate only with members of their immediate household, and said anyone spending any length of time with people outside of their household should wear masks, social distance and not share drink or food to prevent a surge in cases similar to what the state has seen following other major holidays.

"We saw it happen at Thanksgiving, we saw it happen at Christmas. Let's try to make this a little different from what we saw the previous two," Baker said.

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