California expects 1.1 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines in next 3 weeks

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson on November 17, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Image

Gov. Gavin Newsom expects California to start administering the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine next week.

At a Fresno news conference Friday, Newsom said the Biden administration plans to send California more than 1.1 million of the single-dose shots in the next three weeks.

The vaccine, still in the final federal approval process, has fewer handling restrictions than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now being used. Those vaccines require two doses to be fully effective and must be stored at extremely low temperatures.

Addition of the J&J vaccine would come as California is seeing dramatic drops in virus cases and hospitalizations after record highs in early January. The 5,590 people hospitalized now are only about a quarter of the peak total, while the rate of people testing positive in the last week fell to 2.7%

Newsom said the first shipment of 380,000 J&J doses should arrive next week and then similar amounts will come for the next two weeks after that. By the end of March he said the weekly total will "begin to significantly increase."

Distribution of the J&J vaccine is contingent on federal Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention action, though Newsom said he is confident that will happen.