By Noah Weiland and Daniel E. Slotnik
State health officials are growing increasingly concerned about whether doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may expire this month, warning they could go to waste if they go unused in the coming weeks or are not sent elsewhere.
Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio has pleaded with health providers in his state to use around 200,000 doses of the vaccine that he said on Monday were set to expire on June 23. The state’s health department directed providers to adopt a “first-in, first-out” process for the shot to ensure doses with earlier expiration dates were used first. Arkansas’ state epidemiologist said last week that as many as 60,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson may not be used there in time.
Dr. Marcus Plescia, who represents state health agencies as the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said he believed the expiration risk for Johnson & Johnson was a problem in every state. Over 10 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered to states but not administered, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, said on Tuesday at a news conference that the federal government was encouraging governors to consult with the Food and Drug Administration on storage procedures as the agency examines how to possibly extend the shelf life of the vaccine. He said the agency was “looking at opportunities for continued storage.”
An F.D.A. spokeswoman on Tuesday referred questions about the vaccine’s shelf life to Johnson & Johnson, which did not immediately respond. Pharmaceutical companies typically conduct studies that determine how long products last, which the F.D.A. can use in its authorization documents for the vaccine.
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