J&J vaccine doses from troubled plant to be released, but many will be tossed, AP source says
FILE - This Saturday, March 6, 2021 file photo shows vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Denver. On Thursday, June 10, 2021, Johnson & Johnson said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended the expiration date on millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by an extra six weeks. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Cars and private RVs are still recommended for the unvaccinated. But if you are fully vaccinated, it’s fine to take public transit, such as buses, trains and airplanes.
Don’t count on adjacent seats being open; those days are over. If possible, sit by a window and put on the ventilation. Wear a mask – not just to be polite, but because you’re surrounded by people from all over, who may not have had access to vaccines.
If you’re traveling during meal times, consider waiting to eat until everyone else finishes and puts their masks back on. Avoid waiting in long lines while boarding or going to the restroom.
Our Instagram feeds are full of friends heading to exotic places. But you might have to offer proof of a vaccine — or be tested or be quarantined — before your destination will admit you.
The U.S. State Department has expanded its “do not travel” warnings to include the majority of countries worldwide. If you get sick or stuck, there’s little that our government will do to help. So if you decide to travel right now, consider all the potential risks. To learn more about individual countries, go to https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/.
For domestic travel, pay attention to the conditions in the place that you’re visiting. If they’re a “hotspot’ of viral infection, try to choose activities where there are fewer people. Or wear a better quality mask.
Because COVID-19 risks can shift quickly, think about paying a little more for an airline ticket that offers refunds and greater cancellation flexibility. Consider travel insurance that includes pandemic coverage.
While indoor dining is safe for vaccinated people, outdoor dining will be this summer’s safe norm. Skip the romantic wine cellars and instead grab a table at a patio, sidewalk café, garden sanctuary or dining pavilion.
As a courtesy to your waiter, keep your mask on until it is time to eat; they may not have had a chance to be vaccinated. Also keep it on if you visit the restroom, when you’ll be walking past other diners.
Hotels have stepped up their cleaning protocols for rooms, and the risk from previous occupants is quite low. The greater risk comes from crowded lobbies or elevators.
Again: location, location, location. A hotel or indoor restaurant in San Francisco or Hawaii will be safer than places in “hotspot” states in the Upper Midwest or Great Lakes states.
Children can become infected and transmit the virus among themselves, because they’re not yet vaccinated. So if your kids are toddlers and hate wearing masks, traveling will pose a risk — especially if there are crowds.
The danger isn’t great for them, because children rarely get severely sick. But they can spread it to anyone who isn’t protected.
This complicates events like weddings, where you don’t know everyone’s vaccine status. And you might want to rethink travel to geographic hotspots of infection; in contrast, someplace like a Hawaiian beach, where infection rates are quite low, is much safer.
If grandma and grandpa are vaccinated, feel free to visit.
Beaches and pools are relatively safe places to enjoy the warm weather. But be careful in locker rooms, at long lines for diving boards or in crowds around waterslides.
Summer camps are a lot like school — but they’re outdoors, so they’re safer. The important thing is for counselors and other adults to be vaccinated.
Assuming you are fully vaccinated, the average concert doesn’t pose a great risk. But experts still get queasy about big venues packed with thousands of strangers — especially if they’re screaming and singing, with lots of alcohol and few masks. The larger the crowd, the more nervous they get.
But it’s a personal decision: How much is it worth to you? If you’ve waited all pandemic to dance in a moshpit, go for it.
Kissing is fine if you’re both vaccinated, of course. What if they’re not vaccinated, but you are? They’re at risk, not you. Consider a conversation: Tell them you’re worried about their safety.
How do you handle those friends and family members who refuse to get vaccinated but will also expect to see you this summer?
“I think it’s perfectly polite to just ask straight out: ‘Have you been vaccinated? Will you be vaccinated by the time we meet?’ ” said epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Rivers, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.
“And if they say no,” she said, “I think it’s reasonable to say, ‘That won’t work for me.’ “
U.S. regulators are allowing for the release of 10 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine from a troubled Baltimore factory, but material to make many more must be thrown out because of possible contamination, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Friday.
The Food and Drug Administration announced that it had determined that two batches from the plant could be released. But it said several other batches are not suitable for use and additional batches are still under review.
Keep scrolling for tips on how to stay COVID-safe during summer vacation
A second person familiar with the decision confirmed that it would allow for 10 million doses to be released. Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release details about it.
The doses originated at an Emergent BioSolutions factory, known as Bayview, that is making the vaccine for J&J. Those doses would be the first from the factory approved for use. J&J doses that had been administered came from other plants.
Emergent is one of several contractors for J&J that produces its one-shot vaccine in bulk. The concentrated vaccine then is shipped to other factories for final steps, including diluting them to the correct strength, putting them in vials and packaging them up.
Roughly 100 million doses made from bulk vaccine produced at Emergent’s factory had been set aside for additional testing by FDA staff after factory employees accidentally contaminated a batch.
That contamination led the FDA to shut down the factory in mid-April and send in a team of inspectors. They spent a week going through the factory and reviewing security camera footage that showed employees carelessly handling vaccine materials. The inspectors reported unsanitary conditions, poorly trained employees and other problems.
The lapses have hampered J&J’s efforts to be a major player in vaccinating people, particularly in remote areas and poor countries, given that it’s the only drugmaker with an authorized vaccine that only requires one dose and standard refrigeration.
The problems forced J&J to import millions of doses from its factory in the Netherlands and to miss supply commitments.
Emergent’s factory had a history of FDA citations for problems including mold, dirty walls and floors, poorly trained employees and an inadequate strategy to prevent contamination, yet it was given a huge role in COVID-19 vaccine production by the Trump administration. Emergent was handed a lucrative contract to make many millions of COVID-19 vaccines for both J&J and AstraZeneca at the Bayview factory.
Emergent’s chief executive has blamed the contamination and other problems on the complexity of scaling up the factory in just months to make two different vaccines.
The Biden administration is working to find a different American manufacturing partner for the British drugmaker, which has yet to request authorization to distribute it in the U.S.