After the FDA cleared the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Saturday, roughly four million doses are expected to ship nationwide on Monday.
This vaccine only requires a single shot, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and it only requires regular refrigeration instead of freezers. This means it can be made available at many independent pharmacies that did not have the resources to house or distribute the previous vaccines.
"A lot of independent pharmacies, we don't have the ability to do the ultra cold storage," said Eric Gilliespie, co-owner and pharmacist at Hart Pharmacy. "We don't have that sort of equipment. We all have vaccine fridges we use and we monitor so it really opens the door for us to be able to hold the vaccine.
In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced on Monday that roughly 200 independent pharmacies in the state would now be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines, expanding availability and providing the opportunity for Ohioans to support locally owned businesses if they choose.
The state expects to receive 96,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, DeWine said.
Hart Pharmacy expects its first shipment of the new vaccine next week. Also making administering the Johnson & Johnson shot easier for businesses providing it is that it's a single-dose shot, as opposed to the dual doses required for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
"It takes away the burden of making sure the patient follows up, so we can get them in here for that second dose," said Gilliespie.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced on Monday that the Commonwealth will receive 36,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with doses heading to 130 independent pharmacies throughout the state.
Overall, supplies still remain limited, but by the end of the month, the U.S. as a whole expects to see 20 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"There are many people, pharmacies -- independent pharmacists are very accessible in many rural areas and states, so we need to have a tool and a vaccine that they can store, that their pharmacists can give to people that are local," said Suzi Francis, manager of ambulatory pharmacy at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. "We want to have the vaccine available and accessible to people throughout the state and area."
Francis said the addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also brings the nation one step closer to herd immunity.