Federal health officials halted Johnson & Johnson shipments to states in the spring to clear a backlog of unused doses before they expired. But the authorities have not indicated any plans to restart deliveries.
That poses a growing problem in New York, where providers are running low or out of their supply. The state Department of Health is responsible for most local distribution of the vaccines, which it gets from the federal stockpile not from the companies that make them.
Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said that, as is the case in other states, New York has been unable to order additional J&J vaccine doses from the federal government since early May.
“All Johnson & Johnson vaccines previously ordered by New York state have been shipped to providers, and when possible these vaccines were redistributed from providers who [could not] use all of their supply before it expires to other providers who have requested more doses,” Hammond said in a statement.
Keluskar said he turned to nearby hospitals to get his hands on extra doses—to no avail.
Brian Conway, a spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association, said the industry group has been trying to find excess J&J vaccines for several weeks. The association represents more than 160 hospitals and health systems statewide.
“We believe there’s no supply left,” Conway said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment. Johnson & Johnson also did not respond to a request for comment.
In East New York, Keluskar is anxious to once again be able to get J&J doses in his customers’ arms.
“At this point someone needs to recrunch the numbers,” he said, “and see where the vaccines are sitting on shelves and get those reallocated to places where there’s a demand for it. This seems like such a solvable problem.”
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's New York Business.