2M doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine expected first week but arrival time unclear

Last week's approval of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine means more Americans will have access to vaccines against the virus.

"Having a third vaccine available really increases supply nationwide. It's going to allow our profession and other health care providers to vaccinate more people," said Shawn Wilt, the director of pharmacy operations at Meijer.

The Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee reviewed the safety of the vaccine and approved it for emergency use Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control Advisory panel recommended the vaccine for people 18 and older on Sunday.

The single-shot vaccine is the third that will be available in the United States. It is the first approved COVID-19 vaccine that will require only one shot.

The new vaccination comes at a time when the country could use a boost in supplies.

"To get to herd immunity we're going to need probably at least 70% of the population vaccinated. We're not close to that yet," said Dr. Matthew Sims, the director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health. "We need more vaccines to get there."

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine came in last in terms of effectiveness when compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but Sims said it is still effective and safe.

"The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are really just higher than we ever expected, right? Ninety-five percent," Sims said. "Now, what can we say about the J&J vaccine? It is safe. It is effective. It meets all those requirements. It's in the 70s."

Sims said he heard there will be about 2 million doses of the vaccine available the first week. That number is expected to grow to about 100 million doses by the end of June.

At his most recent check, Sims said Beaumont hasn't received its supply of the new vaccine.

The state has distributed 2.6 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as of Thursday. Of those doses, 2.1 million doses have been administered to Michiganders as of Friday.

Oakland County currently has the highest number of vaccines administered -- 286,910, followed by Wayne County, with 219,634. The approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to increase access to vaccinations in Michigan.