The Food and Drug Association approved the Johnson & Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization on Saturday.
The Biden administration will now be able to start rolling out about 4 million doses of the vaccine to states, pharmacies and community health centers across the country next week.
The vaccine is authorized for people who are 18 years old and older.
This is the third vaccine authorized to fight the pandemic. But, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the J&J vaccine is only administered in a single dose and does not require extreme cold for storage or transport.
The J&J vaccine contains five doses per vial, stored between 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored in ultra-cold freezers that keep it between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderna’s vaccine needs to be shipped at 13 below to 5 degrees above zero Fahrenheit.
J&J’s vaccine “makes it operationally easier in lots of contexts,” director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier said on Friday, according to CNBC. “I expect lots of considerations state health departments are having around these vaccines is more about the ease of use of the J&J vaccine and how it might be better suited for some populations.”
After delivering the 4 million doses next week, the pace will increase drastically with the company pledging to increase its supply to 20 million doses by the end of next month.
And, since it is a single dose, those 20 million doses represent 20 million people.
Dr. Richard Nettles, J&J’s vice-president of U.S. medical affairs told House lawmakers on Tuesday that the company expects to have over 100 million doses distributed by the end of June.
The announcement came days after the country surpassed the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.