State already expecting J&J COVID-19 vaccine shipments

COVID-19 Vaccine

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials told Michigan lawmakers Thursday that they are confident Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will earn emergency use approval from the federal government.

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan Association of Local Public Health provided presentations to the state Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services.

Officials said 82,700 Johnson & Johnson doses were added to Michigan’s forecasted allocation for next week, pending the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Michigan is aiming to vaccinate at least 5.6 million people against coronavirus, which will take 11.2 million doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. To date, the state has received about 2.6 million doses and administered 2 million of them.

“As of today, over two million doses of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Michigan, keeping us on track to reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders 16 and up. My administration will continue working closely with the Biden administration to help us ramp up our supply so we can return to the normalcy we all crave as soon as possible. I want to thank our tireless frontline health care workers who are working around the clock to administer these life-saving shots so people can get back to work and our kids can get back to in-person learning. I also want to call on the Michigan Legislature to pass the MI COVID Recovery Plan which allocates federal funds to boost our vaccination efforts and expand testing and lab capacity. Ending this pandemic requires us to utilize every resource we have, and every day we do not pass this plan we are leaving billions on the table. This is an incredible milestone, but we still have a lot of work to do. Let’s get to it.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Health officials acknowledged during the Senate hearing that without a significant jump in supply, Michigan is still months away from reaching herd immunity.

“If we stayed at the current rate of vaccine coming into Michigan, we probably won’t get to that goal of 70% … (for) another six months,” MDHHS Director of Immunization Bob Swanson testified.

Johnson & Johnson doses could facilitate the necessary increase and speed up the timeline.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has been stressing the importance of equitable distribution and is distributing shots with input from the Social Vulnerability Index. The state is also rolling out a pilot program aimed at getting shots to vulnerable populations.

The state has started releasing data on race for those who have been vaccinated, but so far that information has not been recorded for about 44% of recipients. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said Wednesday that so much data is missing that it’s too soon to draw meaningful conclusions and said the state is working to close the data gap.

The Republican-controlled Senate opposes the use of the SVI. On Thursday, it approved $2 billion in spending to respond to the virus but also included a provision that would stop the health department from taking socioeconomic or race factors into account when distributing shots. That measure now goes to the House, also led by Republicans.

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