Delivery of new Johnson & Johnson vaccine limited

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

State health officials are advising COVID-19 vaccine providers not to expect any deliveries next week of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine that only requires a single dose.

The advisory comes as Connecticut is receiving its first shipment of the new vaccine, including 7,400 doses each to Yale New Haven Health system and Hartford HealthCare, and 1,000 doses to Trinity Health Network.

The governor’s office reported Monday that as many as 39,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine were to be delivered this week.

The state Department of Public Health informed vaccine providers in a weekly bulletin issued Tuesday not to count on receiving any J&J vaccine next week. The DPH has been informed that there will be either no allocations or very limited allocations for the next two weeks.

State officials and vaccine providers are expecting the J&J vaccines to boost efforts to speed up inoculations around the state because the other available Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

The DPH bulletin said vaccine providers should continue to order Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as usual. The state, pharmacies and federally-qualified health centers are due to receive 100,000 first doses from the two companies this week.

People ages 55 to 64 became eligible for the vaccines Monday. The state previously made vaccines available to nursing home residents and staff, critical hospital workers, emergency first responders, and people 65 and older.

The vaccination program also opened Monday to eligible staff of public schools, private schools and professional child care centers of all ages. In some cases, dedicated clinics are being set up for these essential workers.

There are an estimated 513,000 people in the 55-to-64 age group, and the DPH reports that approximately 61,000 previously received a first dose. Also, there are an estimated 150,000 school employees and child care workers under age 55.

The DPH is anticipating that initial vaccinations will take three to four weeks to complete based on assumptions that 60% of these two groups will opt to get vaccines and the state receives 100,000 doses a week from the federal government.

The tentative timetable anticipates the vaccination program to expand to 45- to 54-year-olds on March 22. The estimated eligibility pool is 385,000 people because 52,000 members of this age group already received a first shot, and 34,000 are either school personnel or child care workers.

First doses are expected to take two to three weeks to administer, again assuming a 60% uptake rate and weekly deliveries of 100,000 doses.

An estimated 350,000 residents between the ages of 35 and 44 are slated to become eligible on April 12, excluding 44,000 people who already received a first dose and 34,000 who work in schools and child care centers. This vaccination round is also expected to take two to three weeks.

Everyone else who wants to get inoculated will be eligible starting May 3. The DPH had no estimates on how long the initial vaccinations will take.

State health officials on Wednesday reported a daily positive test rate of 2.1% based on 494 new cases of COVID-19 out of 22,165 tests results that were received Tuesday.

There now have been 283,622 reported cases since early last March, and more than 6.8 million molecular and antigen tests have been performed.

Hospitalizations increased for only the 11th time since Jan. 1. There was a net increase of 38 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 451 statewide.

The reports of 20 additional coronavirus-linked deaths raised the death toll to 7,678.

The state reported Wednesday there have been 2,793 cases in Naugatuck, 716 in Prospect and 444 in Beacon Falls since last March.

There have been 87 coronavirus-related deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and three in Prospect.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.