scorecardPeople used to fight over getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Now millions of doses are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them.
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People used to fight over getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Now millions of doses are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them.

Grace Eliza Goodwin   

People used to fight over getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Now millions of doses are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them.
LifeScience2 min read
  • The Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the US.
  • Over two years after it was first approved, the last batch of doses has been thrown out.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans were clamoring to get vaccinated as soon as they could.

But now, millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them.

More than 2 years after Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was first authorized for emergency use by the FDA, it is now no longer available anywhere in the US, according to the CDC.

Over 31.5 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been distributed across the country since March 2021 — 19 million of which made it into Americans' arms, CNN reported.

The 12.5 million remaining doses — nearly a third of the total produced — expired on May 7, and the CDC has told all vaccine providers to get rid of them.

Though the J&J vaccine was the least popular of the three vaccines available in the US, its final demise is still a stark contrast to the early days of COVID-19 vaccination when rich people were gaming the system to get vaccinated before their turn.

During the height of the pandemic, young people also showed up at pharmacies just before closing time, hoping to snag soon-to-expire shots before they were trashed.

And even for those who followed the rules, wait times for vaccine appointments at the height of the public health crisis were often days — or even weeks.

The end of the J&J vaccine comes less than a week after the US Department of Health and Human Services officially ended the COVID-19 public health emergency as the Biden administration winds down its COVID-19 response. The World Health Organization recently said that COVID-19 is now a disease we'll need to learn to live with — though it warned that there's still a risk of a relapse with a new variant if countries slack off their preventative measures.

Correction: May 26, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misidentified the FDA's decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine was authorized for emergency use.




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