J&J vaccine shipments to Wisconsin will plunge next week. Here’s who could feel the impact

MADISON, Wis. — After a manufacturing error leading to 15 million spoiled Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates allocations to states across the county will plunge for this coming week. Wisconsin received almost 86,000 doses on April 5, and state officials said last week that based on federal information, they anticipated that supply to increase each week.

Next week, however, Wisconsin is only slated for just over 10,000 doses of the vaccine; Moderna and Pfizer allotments will remain stable. The state received an initial shipment of 48,000 doses at the beginning of March, before weekly shipments dipped to just over 6,000 for two weeks. At the end of the month, the shipment was up to 33,800 doses, according to CDC data.

Based on new federal information, that decrease is likely to continue over the next few weeks, according to deputy secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“What I anticipate is that we’ll have a few weeks of famine, and then we’ll have a big feast of J&J vaccine as we head into the month of May,” Julie Willems Van Dijk told reporters in a press briefing on Thursday.

Willems Van Dijk noted that federal officials had warned about fluctuations in supply, and that this could be compared to fluctuations with Moderna and Pfizer earlier on in distribution. A batch of 15 million doses was spoiled at a Baltimore plant after employees mixed up vaccine ingredients; no doses left the plant before the error was caught.

SSM Health, a major vaccinator for south central Wisconsin, will be one of those feeling the impacts from the decreased supply. Their VP of Pharmacy Services, Mo Kharbat, said J&J doses made up about a third of their total shipment from the state this week; next week, they’ll have almost none. That will impact how they schedule future appointments, and they plan to return to a much more conservative baseline as a result.

“When the allocation was large enough to allow the state to distribute doses to all vaccinators across the state, we opened up our schedules and extended our operations, which is a great thing to allow us to vaccinate as many people as we can,” Kharbat said. “But now for the next two or three weeks, we will likely go back to our base line.”

While Public Health Madison and Dane County saw their J&J allotment from the state drop from 7,000 this week to 1,200 next week, the gap in supply was replaced by the Pfizer vaccine. As a result, Alliant Energy Center will see roughly an equivalent number of vaccine appointments next week.

“The biggest change for us is having more Pfizer next week because of the drop in J&J, which means actually we’ll be able to vaccinate more 16- and 17-year-olds,” PHMDC’s immunization coordinator Tess Ellens said. (Only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people between 16 and 18 years old.)

Not all vaccinators will feel the effects. Apart from a one-time J&J allocation initially, a spokesperson for UW Health said they’ve only been receiving the Pfizer vaccine so they don’t foresee impact yet from the decrease.

Hyvee and CVS pharmacies are receiving a range of vaccines from all manufacturers, spokespeople for both companies said, and don’t anticipate the decreased J&J supply to impact schedulings and vaccinations as a result. Walgreens confirmed they do not have any changes to current vaccine appointments, but couldn’t speak to any future impact.