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Washington state health officials say COVID vaccine supply is shorter than expected after J&J vaccine production error

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The federal government has revised its vaccine supply expectations for a decline in Washington, state health officials said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

The declining supply comes as government health officials plan to open vaccine eligibility for anyone over the age of 16 next week, April 15.

Health officials had expected the state to receive at least 600,000 vaccines each week in April through state-federal programs, but federal government estimates were premature.

“The three-week prognosis is slightly lower than we expected,” said Sean Allen, director of COVID-19 vaccines at the Washington Department of Health. “These are assessments, they change…”

The expected reduction in supply is likely due to problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufacturer. About 15 million doses were wasted after contract workers’s wrong mixing of ingredients with J&J.

The problem was discovered before the bad doses were delivered and was widely reported in new outlets last week.

Allen said the government plans to take fewer doses of J&J vaccines than previously thought.

In all, Washington State expects to deliver at least 500,000 doses next week.

Next week, the state will send about 380,000 doses to health organizations. Another 100,000 doses will arrive in Washington state through the Federal Pharmacy Program. Federally qualified health centers, often referred to as community health centers, because they offer services regardless of the individual’s ability to pay, will receive up to 20,000 doses directly from the federal government. Dialysis clinics will also receive direct delivery, although it is not yet clear how much.

The federal government says the expected supply boost will come, but the timetable is not yet clear, Allen said.

Next week, about 1.3 million people will join the approximately 5 million Washingtonians who are already eligible for the vaccine.

As more people queue up for doses, Secretary of State for Health Dr. Umayr Shah said he hoped the supply of vaccines would increase in May, if not later, in April, “so that we can meet that requirement.”

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