By Peter Loftus and Ken Thomas
Trucks carrying Johnson & Johnson's newly authorized
Covid-19 vaccine began rolling out Monday en route to states and
sites that have been seeking more doses to boost vaccinations.
McKesson Corp., which is serving as the centralized distributor
for J&J vaccines, is working with FedEx and UPS to ship the
doses nationwide. The shipments are expected to reach states and
vaccination sites as early as Tuesday, the Biden administration
A FedEx spokeswoman said pickups had begun at a McKesson
facility in Olive Branch, Miss. The shipping company is using its
distribution hub in Memphis, Tenn., to deliver the doses
UPS trucks picked up J&J vaccine from a McKesson facility in
Shepherdsville, Ky., on Monday and brought them to a UPS center in
Louisville, Ky., a company spokesman said. The doses will then be
flown to UPS sites throughout the country for delivery by vehicle
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday authorized use
of the vaccine. J&J had made nearly four million doses for
initial shipment. The administration said it expects about 20
million doses to be delivered by the end of March.
Distribution will be uneven early on as the company increases
production, it said, meaning the bulk of the additional 16 million
doses will arrive later in the month.
"We're getting these doses out the door as soon as they're
available to ensure vaccines get into arms as quickly as possible,"
a senior Biden administration official said Sunday.
J&J has said it expects output will quickly increase,
enabling it to deliver a total of 100 million doses for use in the
U.S. by the end of June. The company said it had begun shipping the
vaccine, which is being allocated and distributed under federal
Health authorities have been counting on vaccinations to protect
people against Covid-19 and permit schools, businesses and other
establishments to fully reopen. The pace of vaccinations has
increased following a shaky start, but limited supplies have
restricted how many people are designated eligible.
More than 75 million doses have been administered in the U.S.
out of 96.4 million doses distributed, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The first two Covid-19 vaccines cleared for use -- one from
Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, and the other from Moderna
Inc. -- require two doses for full protection, according to the
FDA. J&J's vaccine needs just one dose, which should simplify
the vaccination drive, though the shot wasn't as effective in
late-stage trials as the other two shots.
J&J's shot was still plenty effective, health experts say,
and its performance in the trial may have been impacted by the
presence of coronavirus variants that may not have been present
during late-stage trials for the other two shots.
Public-health advisers to President Biden have urged Americans
to take the first available vaccine when it is their turn, and not
wait for the one they prefer.
Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden's chief medical adviser on Covid-19,
minimized concerns that studies showed the J&J shot is less
effective than the Pfizer - BioNTech and Moderna vaccines earlier
authorized by the FDA. Dr. Fauci said that the J&J vaccine
guarded against hospitalizations and deaths, the two most serious
outcomes, and that it hadn't been compared head-to-head against the
"All three of them are really quite good, and people should take
the one that's most available to them," Dr. Fauci said on NBC's
"Meet the Press" Sunday morning.
"If I would go to a place where they had J&J, I would have
no hesitancy whatsoever to take it," he added.
Biden officials said the J&J vaccine would be allocated as
the first two have been, in proportion to the population of a
state, tribe or territory.
The J&J vaccine, the first administered in a single dose, is
expected to bolster a mass-vaccination campaign that is pushing to
end the deadliest pandemic in more than a century.
As of Sunday, 15% of the nation's population had received one or
more doses of the two previously approved Covid-19 vaccines,
according to the CDC. Health experts say well more than half the
population needs to be vaccinated for the herd immunity needed to
move past the pandemic.
Mr. Biden has said that enough doses of vaccine would be
available to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of
McKesson is working with logistics partners FedEx Corp. and
United Parcel Service Inc. to get doses and supply kits out to
providers, with a goal of shipping them within one to two business
days after receiving orders.
The medical-supply company also has the federal contract to
manage distribution of the Moderna vaccine, plus potentially others
if they become authorized.
McKesson also is distributing supply kits for all authorized
vaccines, including the one from Pfizer and BioNTech, which are
handling their own dose distribution.
Write to Peter Loftus at email@example.com and Ken Thomas at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 01, 2021 17:02 ET (22:02 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.