NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa., –
The Defense Logistics Agency started receiving and shipping Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine to overseas troops just days after the U.S Food and Drug Administration announced the emergency-use authorization Feb. 27.
The vaccines began arriving March 3 at DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and the first 9,700 doses were delivered March 8 to U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center Korea. The vaccines were distributed to medical treatment facilities in South Korea based on U.S. Forces Korea’s inoculation priority schedule and included Camp Carroll, where DLA Distribution Korea employees received J&J vaccines March 11.
Another 40,000 vaccines and 400 ancillary kits were shipped by March 16 to Honduras, Africa, Italy, Diego Garcia, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Japan, Bahrain, Spain, England and South Korea.
DLA Distribution’s COVID-19 vaccine support began Dec. 22 with the Moderna vaccine. While the Moderna vaccine requires a -20 degrees Celsius storage temperature, the J&J vaccine can be stored and shipped at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius like the seasonal influenza vaccine. Current testing data indicates the vaccine is more sensitive to temperature deviations outside the 2 to 8 degrees Celsius range, said Robert Garrettson, who leads DLA Distribution’s shelf-life special commodities team.
“While most vaccine shipments arrive within the timeframe needed to maintain the J&J vaccine viability, some shipments have taken slightly longer due to new overseas end-destination locations and new shipping lanes,” he said. “We’ve overcome this challenge with minor adjustments including close monitoring of shipments while in transit, coordinating between DLA and receiving sites before shipment, and actively monitoring material and packaging in transit with specialized services offered by commercial carriers,” Garrettson said.