Chicago is projected to receive just under 40,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine this week, the city's top doctor said Thursday, detailing locations where those single-shot doses are going to be used.
The Johnson & Johnson allocation for this week is about 39,900, the city says, and marks the fourth shipment Chicago will have received since vaccinations began and the largest of Johnson & Johnson thus far.
The first shipment of that vaccine to Chicago was about 22,300 doses the week of Feb. 28, followed by 6,200 in mid-March and 15,700 the following week. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third to be approved by U.S. regulators for emergency use but the first to require only one dose instead of two.
"What you see is that this week we've got a real increase for the first time, kind of looking ahead, in our Johnson & Johnson vaccine," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live broadcast Thursday morning.
"We've got big plans for that Johnson & Johnson," Arwady said. "We're using it to expand the homebound program, we're using it to bring to more manufacturing settings, we're using it to vaccinate everybody who works at O'Hare."
"We're using it to vaccinate some of the union workers that we're very focused on," she continued, seemingly in reference to the mass vaccination site for union workers that the city announced earlier this week, billing it as a "first-of-its-kind effort" in partnership with the Chicago Federation of Labor.
"We've got plans to be vaccinating restaurant and food service workers in dedicated events and we wanted to get it to providers," Arwady said. She later noted that the city has more than 600 providers enrolled to administer vaccinations, but can only give about a third of them vaccine doses each week.
Arwady added that Johnson & Johnson doses, requiring only refrigerated storage and not freezer storage like Moderna or ultra-cold storage like Pfizer, will be better suited for some of those outpatient settings.
For a comparison of the three vaccines, click here.
"We want to use it at some of the mass vaccination sites like at Chicago State," Arwady said, referring to one of two other new mass vaccination sites the city also announced earlier this week: one at Chicago State University and a second just outside Wrigley Field, slated to open next week.
"This Johnson & Johnson is really what we're counting on," Arwady said.
Arwady also said Thursday that she was "concerned" about a delay in shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the company said Wednesday that it had to discard 15 million doses after workers accidentally mixed up ingredients at a Baltimore facility.
When asked if the issue will slow down or push back Chicago's vaccine rollout, Arwady said, "I think it probably will in the short term, not in the long term."
"We're still waiting to hear the details and what that is going to look like, but I am concerned about it because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is very much the vaccine that we have been hearing the signal on to be the major increase, especially over these next couple of weeks," Arwady said, praising the oversight that caught the error.
"Fifteen million is a lot, I mean that's multiple weeks of vaccine supply with the rate that vaccine is being produced right now and so we know that that 40,000 doses that we're getting for Chicago this coming week, we expect to be getting that as planned," she continued. "But I am concerned and potentially for the next couple of weeks, we may get very little. I don't know yet, and this has been part of the problem, that we don't know more than a week ahead how much vaccine we're getting."
"For this, where really every week matters, I am concerned," Arwady said. "So we're asking questions, we'll share more as we have it."