ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The manufacturing error that spoiled 15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines is not expected to impact Minnesota’s supply chain of doses, a top official with the state health department said on Thursday.
The pharmaceutical company in a statement said the batch produced by a subcontractor in Baltimore did not meet “quality standards,” causing the doses to be discarded, a CBS News report detailed.
On Thursday, Kris Ehresmann, the director of infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health, said the problem does not impact the 30,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson the state received this week or the 80,000 projected next week.
“We’re getting our supply from the Netherlands,” Ehresmann said. “We’re still waiting for confirmation from our CDC colleagues, but our understanding is that that does not affect the supply here.”
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are the only three vaccines approved for use in the United States. Minnesota’s supply so far has largely been Pfizer and Moderna — Johnson & Johnson got approval two months later — but the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is seen as a game changer in accelerating vaccine rollout in order to beat the pandemic.
Earlier this week, the state expanded eligibility to anyone 16 or older. More than 1 million Minnesotans are fully vaccinated and more than 1.6 million have had at least one shot.
Ehresmann made the comments during an event with Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday morning, touting the federal COVID relief plan at a Gillette Children’s vaccination site in St. Paul.
She urged Minnesotans to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as cases here are on the rise due to the more infectious variants circulating in the state. Between 50% and 60% of all new cases are linked to the variant first identified in the U.K., she said.
“That’s why, even as we’re celebrating the success of vaccination, we keep saying, be attentive to social distancing and masking and all of those important things because we aren’t out of the woods,” Ehresmann said. “It’s a kind of a razor’s edge right now.”
The state is slated to get tens of millions of dollars for vaccinations from the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress, a sweeping relief package that includes direct payments to Americans, money for state and local governments, aid for small businesses, child care assistance and funds for vaccines and testing.
State budget experts recently estimated the total amount of money Minnesota will receive for vaccines is $85 million, according to a presentation to a state legislative committee last month.
Klobuchar said that money can be used for standing up vaccination sites, staffing costs and outreach efforts to reach people reluctant to get a shot.
“You can’t suddenly – and not – vaccinate the entire population over five million people in Minnesota and over 300 million people in this country just like that,” she said. “It takes funds.”
Ehresmann on a Department of Health call later Thursday afternoon confirmed that the state will use federal funding to cover outreach campaigns, but did not share the amount off-hand.
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday publicly received their Johnson & Johnson vaccines together in an effort to bolster public trust.
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Author: WCCO | CBS Minnesota