US begins shipping Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine to states

Coronavirus Vaccine

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The third coronavirus vaccine to receive emergency use approval in the U.S. is being shipped to states Monday, and Americans should be able to receive Johnson & Johnson’s single dose within the next 24 to 48 hours, the drugmaker’s top executive said.

Johnson & Johnson plans to deliver 4 million vaccine doses this week, 20 million by the end of March and 100 million doses by June, CEO Alex Gorsky said in interviews with media outlets Monday.

“Within the next 24 to 28 hours, Americans should start receiving shots in arms. They’re literally rolling out with the trucks as we speak,” he told NBC News.

J&J’s vaccine requires only one shot, while Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s require two.

McKesson Corporation said on Monday it had begun distribution of J&J’s vaccine, just days after it was authorized for emergency use in the U.S.

McKesson is the partner for the U.S. government’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the company has established four distribution centers which will be specifically used to distribute the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

From the company’s plant in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, employees packed up doses onto trucks early Monday. Staff signed the first boxes and applauded as one was carried to the loading dock.

The U.S. government makes the administration decisions, including where, when and how many vaccine doses McKesson will distribute, the company said.

J&J’s shot will be the only one-dose COVID vaccine available in the United States. It is also the easiest to ship and store, as it can be kept in a refrigerator rather than a freezer.

CDC epidemiologist Dr. Sara Oliver said Sunday that there are not yet any studies comparing J&J’s vaccine directly to the other approved vaccines but that all were highly effective at reducing hospitalizations and deaths.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are based on new messenger RNA technology, showed higher efficacy rates in trials that used two doses versus J&J’s single-shot vaccine. Direct comparison, however, is difficult because the trials had different goals and J&J’s was conducted while more contagious new variants of the virus were circulating.

Reuters contributed to this report. Reporting by Susan Heavey and Carl O’Donnell.

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