‘An exciting development’: Gov. Walz announces 1st Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipment arrival in Minnesota

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On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that the first Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived in Minnesota.

The state will receive 45,200 doses of the vaccine this week. Immunizations will begin shortly after doses arrive to Minnesota providers, the governor’s office says.

The initial shipment of 4,900 doses arrived at an M Health Fairview specialty pharmacy in Minneapolis. The health system expects to start administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine by Friday.

“This is an exciting development. We now have three vaccines available that are safe and highly effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” Walz said in a statement. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help our state quickly provide immunity and get us one step closer to ending this pandemic. We know we need broad community protection before we can get back to the normal, enjoyable parts of life we have missed, and the way we get there is by getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Everyone who has the opportunity to get this shot should take it.”

Minnesota is already a national leader in getting shots administered. As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control ranks the state third among for the percentage of doses received that have been administered.

“It is exciting to welcome a third safe and highly effective vaccine to Minnesota,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “As a single-dose vaccine that does not require ultra-cold storage, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help us quickly immunize even more Minnesotans. These life-saving vaccines will be the way we end this pandemic, and we will make sure all communities in Minnesota have fair and equitable access to all safe and effective vaccines. Every Minnesotan should get vaccinated at the first opportunity available to them. Today is a good day.”

Minnesota providers have administered more than 1.4 million doses to almost 930,000 Minnesotans. More than 54% of Minnesotans 65 and older and 56% of K-12 educators and child care workers have received at least one dose as of Wednesday.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an excellent option for Minnesotans. In clinical trials, it was highly effective in preventing serious illness and completely effective in preventing hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Minnesotans should be confident that every authorized vaccine is safe and effective, and we encourage everyone to get whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.”

This vaccine only requires one dose, according to state health officials.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses are expected to drop-off in shipments next week, Walz said, but will pick back up soon after. The governor also mentioned that Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses should see an uptick in the weeks to come.

Health officials have also reiterated that all three of these vaccine options have no difference in terms of the impact they all have.