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Safeway opening appointments Thursday for Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine
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Safeway opening appointments Thursday for Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

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Hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine appointments will open up Thursday evening, as Safeway pharmacies in Washington and Oregon receive allocations of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the federal government.

About 200 appointments per pharmacy will be available at all four Cowlitz County store locations beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, with vaccinations beginning on Friday, according to Safeway.

The doses are in addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines Safeway and Albertsons pharmacies are already receiving, according to the company.

Eligible people can sign up using Safeway’s online scheduling tool. Patients will be able to choose which vaccine they prefer, in accordance with available supply at each location, according to the company.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose, unlike the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the Johnson & Johnson vaccine emergency use authorization Feb. 27. The western states workgroup cleared the vaccine Wednesday.

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“With the delivery of the J & J vaccine this week, and overall increase in the number of vaccine doses coming to Washington, we have increased our capacity to get vaccine to all parts of the state,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement Wednesday. “We are making good progress on vaccination rates, and this third vaccine will help our efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Washington will likely receive an initial 60,900-dose allocation of the vaccine, the state Department of Health said last week. This does not include doses sent directly to pharmacies through the federal retail pharmacy program.

The state Department of Health offered the Cowlitz County 300 doses of the single-dose vaccine this week, said Stefanie Donahue, Cowlitz County Health and Human Services communications manager. The county directed 200 doses to Kaiser Permanente and 100 doses to Cowlitz Family Health Center, she said.

The county doesn’t know how many doses of the new vaccine providers will get next week, Donahue said.

Statewide, 14.87% of residents had received their first dose and 8.4% received both doses as of Monday. More than 1.76 million doses have been administered in Washington and the seven-day average number of doses given per day was 43,765.

As of Monday, Cowlitz County providers had administered about 21,130 doses. About 10,740 county residents, 9.9%, had received their first dose and about 5,000, 4.6%, were fully vaccinated as of Monday.

Cowlitz County Wednesday reported 19 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths, a man in his 70s who was not hospitalized and two women in their 70s who were hospitalized. All three had underlying conditions, according to the health department.

The county has recorded 4,267 cases and 57 COVID-19 deaths.

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