Safeway and Albertsons pharmacies across Oregon will have their weekly COVID-19 vaccine allotment doubled this week as they begin receiving doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Roughly 200 total doses will be going to each of approximately 115 Safeway and Albertsons pharmacies across Oregon this week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, according to Jill McGinnis, a spokesperson for Safeway and Albertsons, which share a common owner.
That enables the chains to double the number of appointment slots they are offering to eligible Oregonians. McGinnis said the company anticipates making at least 200 appointments available for each participating pharmacy beginning this Thursday at 5 p.m.
Safeway and Albertsons pharmacies in Oregon were previously receiving 100 doses each per week through the federal program.
Health care workers, people living in nursing homes and other congregate care settings, child care providers, teachers and people ages 65 and over are currently eligible to receive vaccines in Oregon.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last week. Unlike the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 illnesses in a multicountry study. More importantly, it was shown to be 85% effective in protecting against severe COVID-19 illness.
Studies have shown the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be 95% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections after two doses.
Eligible Oregonians who sign up for vaccination appointments through Safeway or Albertsons will have the option to choose between the 1-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the 2-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
“We have updated our online scheduling tool to ensure patients are aware of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine availability when they register for an appointment,” McGinnis said. “Patients are able to choose which vaccine they prefer, in accordance with what supplies are available at each location.”
Along with Safeway and Albertsons, Costco, Walgreens and Health Mart pharmacies across Oregon are also participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. It was not immediately clear how many Johnson & Johnson vaccines doses will reach other pharmacies this week.
Oregonians who have managed to schedule appointments at pharmacies throughout the state over the last several weeks have reported positive experiences, but many have also struggled to book appointments given the small quantities of vaccine available.