Detroit mayor says city intends to distribute J&J COVID vaccines after calling others better

ByGanesh Setty, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, March 5, 2021
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Health regulators are still reviewing the safety and effectiveness of the shot. A decision to allow its emergency use is expected later this week.

DETROIT -- Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan declined an initial allocation of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week even as nationwide demand continues to outpace available supply.

Yet in a newly released statement, Duggan said the city will distribute the J&J vaccine once the demand "warranted it and we had our distribution plan in place so we can make it just as accessible to our residents as we have Moderna and Pfizer."

Duggan, a Democrat who has been mayor since 2014, previously said he turned down the shipment because the city is able to meet current demand with its supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines -- even as his administration expanded vaccine eligibility Thursday to residents ages 50 and older with chronic medical conditions, CNN reported.

"So, Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the City of Detroit get the best," Duggan said during a news conference Thursday.

This is a breaking news update. A previous version of this report is below.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson says it will be able to provide 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by end of March

The US Food and Drug Administration on Saturday authorized the one-dose J&J vaccine, which was found to be 72% effective in the US against moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 cases. Clinical trials showed the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were about 95% effective.

All three vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, and health officials have urged people to take any COVID-19 vaccine they are offered.

"The day may come in March or April when every single Moderna and Pfizer is committed, and we still have people who need a vaccine. And at that point, we will set up a Johnson & Johnson center. I don't see that in the next couple of weeks," Duggan said.

Detroit received 29,000 total vaccine doses manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna this week, the mayor said. He said he expects roughly the same amount next week, and repeatedly said there is enough supply to meet current demand. He urged all qualified residents to make appointments.

Detroit's mass vaccination drive-thru site at the TCF Center is able to "max-out" at 5,000 cars per weekday, Duggan explained, adding that health officials will administer the remaining 4,000 doses between "Senior Saturday" vaccination events and health department outreach this week.

Detroit received 6,200 doses of the J&J vaccine, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

RELATED: How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

"The Johnson and Johnson doses not used by Detroit were provided to other health departments that had lower coverage rates for those ages 65 years or older," spokesman Bob Wheaton said in a statement to CNN.

The J&J vaccine doses "were allocated on top of the Moderna and Pfizer distribution," Wheaton said, adding that Detroit did not receive additional Moderna or Pfizer supply to replace the 6,200 forgone J&J doses.

"All immunizing providers who can manage vaccine storage and management for a vaccine are expected to accept the vaccine," he said.

Detroit providers have administered 101,636 total COVID-19 vaccine doses, with 55,121 future doses already scheduled, according to the city's COVID-19 dashboard.

A spokesman for Duggan did not immediately respond to CNN's follow-up questions on whether the city will accept the J&J vaccine moving forward.

CNN has also reached out to the Biden administration for comment.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday said the state is easing some coronavirus-related restrictions, including restaurant capacities. She cited lower case counts and the increased availability of vaccines.

She also noted the J&J vaccine is manufactured in the state, in Grand Rapids.

The video featured is from a previous report.

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