PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - There’s another new twist in the roller-coaster of a ride it’s been for many Oregonians to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as a big national shortage of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will put a squeeze on vaccine appointments in the coming weeks.
The shortage, which affects the entire country, comes after millions of doses of the vaccine had to be destroyed after an ingredient mix-up during manufacturing.
The Oregon Health Authority said it expects to only get an average of 8 percent over the next couple weeks of the normal dose allotment the state receives.
“We’ve said all along that there are going to be these weeks where the amount of demand, or in this case, where the amount of Oregonians 16 years and older will be eligible and will exceed the supply that we have in the state,” said OHA’s chief financial officer, Dave Baden, Monday. “It will be that way for a few weeks as we get into May.”
However, those who already have a Johnson and Johnson vaccine appointment set should be able to get the shot without trouble, Baden said.
According to OHA, pharmacies and other vaccine administrators, like medical clinics, only offer appointments based on what supplies are already on the shelf.
For example, a spokeswoman for Safeway and Albertson’s told FOX 12: “We only make appointments for vaccines we have in hand so we will not be causing any cancellations. We post appointments Thursdays at 5 p.m. For the next 7 days.”
Still, the shortage puts a big damper on plans to easily vaccinate vulnerable populations that state officials say are more at risk for being unable to make two vaccine appointments, like people experiencing homelessness and migrant farm workers.
Both groups became eligible to receive the vaccine only a couple weeks ago.
“It will mean we’ll have to be a little bit more focused on where the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will go,” Baden said.
As for everyone else still waiting, OHA urges people to not be picky about vaccine brands.
“The best vaccine is the one that you are able to get and I really do encourage everyone – understanding that it is a little more inconvenient to sometimes have to go twice -- but that’s the vaccine that we will have the most of for the next few weeks,” Baden said.
Supplies of Moderna and Pfizer are expected to remain the same.
Baden said it should be much easier to make appointments as summer approaches in May and June.