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State and local health officials assure J&J vaccine safe in Louisiana

Millions of doses in a Maryland factory were tossed due to possible human error

NEW ORLEANS - Human error is believed to be why millions of doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine had to be thrown out. Local and state health officials though telling people all past and future shots are safe. The error though could impact how many doses Louisiana gets in future shipments.

"The Johnson and Johnson factory in Baltimore which was preparing 15 million doses for shipment in the next couple of weeks, that is now on pause," said Dr. Jennifer Avegno.

After weeks of progress on the vaccine front, news that Johnson and Johnson scrapped millions of doses of their vaccine from a plant in Maryland, has been a tough pill to swallow.

"You know this caught us by surprise," said Dr. Avegno. "The J&J CEO as recently as last week was talking to governors and leaders about how great this was going to be so we're a little bit surprised."

Not much information has officially been released on what happened. The company in a statement though saying "...this quality control process identified one batch of drug substance that did not meet quality standards..."

"One of the things Johnson and Johnson was doing, to make more production quickly which is what we need, they contracted with a 3rd party company to help produce in their factory which means it wasn't directly under J&J's eyes the whole time," said Dr. Joseph Kanter. "And that's when this happened, and I think some of that is to be expected as a company tries to expand production very quickly."

Dr. Kanter, with the Louisiana Department of Health, says the doses Louisiana has received have come from overseas. Their next shipment, expected Monday, he assures has nothing to do with this mix-up.

"The doses we have received so far to date and have been administered are 100% fine," he said. "The doses that Louisiana will receive over the next few weeks are also 100% fine, the only affect this will have is to decrease how much we're going to get around June."

The situation isn't great. However, leaders say what happened, is proof safety is a priority.

"This is unfortunate," said Dr. Kanter. "But it tells me the quality assurance process works and they caught this mistake even before that medicine got put into bottles, so disappointing but reassuring about the process."

About 66,000 doses of J&J are expected to arrive in Louisiana by Monday.

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