FALLS CHURCH, Va. — With Virginia expecting 69,000 doses of the newly approved single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, localities prepare in the hope they receive part of the shipment.
Dr. Danny Avula, the head of Virginia's vaccination program, said they should receive the vaccines by the end of the week, now that the FDA awarded the company its Emergency Use Authorization on Saturday.
“[It's] great news for the region, for the state, and for the country," Falls Church Mayor David Tarter said. "We’re really in a race right now for some ways with the virus to make sure it doesn’t continue to mutate.”
Mayor Tarter heads the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which has been advocating for more supply for the region for weeks.
“That is the big restricting factor right now, is just supply," he said. "I think that’s going to loosen up in the next couple of weeks. I think you’ll see a whole lot more supply being delivered.”
The Virginia Department of Health said Sunday that it is still figuring out where specifically those doses will go, but Mayor Tarter said that if VDH mirrors past distribution, northern Virginia should receive about 25%.
VDH said that mass vaccination clinics will get priority.
A spokesperson for Loudoun County said that if they are selected to receive some of the shipment, one target site could be Dulles Town Center.
In Prince William County, the health director said they will look at what populations are the most hesitant to take the vaccine and most affected by COVID-19 to determine if a mass event makes sense this week.
“They’re certainly looking to spread out vaccinations, to decentralize it, so it’s easier for people to get it," Mayor Tarter said. "I think you’ll be seeing in the coming days more distribution centers.”
In Lynchburg, for example, the fire department has been running a mass clinic for weeks out of an old TJ MAXX.
“This is really about teamwork," Fire Chief Greg Wormser said. "This is not a time for people to be working in silos or staying in their own lane. It’s a time when we need to be coming together.”
The VDH said that an additional shipment of J & J vaccines is expected to be sent to pharmacies participating in the federal retail pharmacy partnership. A spokesperson said Sunday they are still working to determine how many doses that allotment will include.
As Virginians eagerly await their turn to get vaccinated, Mayor Tarter advises patience and continued compliance with COVID precautions.
“The end is in sight I think, so just hang in there," he said.
WUSA9 asked Maryland and D.C. how many Johnson & Johnson doses they expect to receive this week. A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Health said they are still waiting on final confirmation. D.C. did not respond.