COVID vaccine extension and potential approval could boost Bay County vaccinations

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The FDA recently announced that it would extend the expiration date of the Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine by six weeks. The extension allows pharmacies to hold onto current doses, rather than throwing them away. 

Meanwhile Moderna filed for authorization from the FDA to use its vaccine to vaccinate children ages 12-17. If the filing is approved, it could benefit pharmacies like RX Express in Bay County, which could begin vaccinating children. 

“I think it would really increase our business throughout the week,” Lauren Parker, a pharmacist at RX Express said. “A lot of people will want to bring their kids in, it’s summertime. They want to get them vaccinated before they go back to school or before kids go back to college.”

The pharmacy was initially vaccinating around 20 people per day when vaccines were first released, Parker said. That number has dwindled to about five to ten people daily. 

Recently, children under the age of 18 have walked into the pharmacy, looking to get vaccinated. However, with just the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, the pharmacy has not held a drug that has been FDA approved for children. 

“Especially those in the 15 to 17 year old range looking to be vaccinated but we don’t have the vaccines,” Parker said. “So to be able to have the clearance for the Moderna vaccine for those 12-17 years old, it would really open up those doors for us.”

At the same time, pharmacies in Bay County can continue to hold current Johnson and Johnson vaccines, which only need to be refrigerated in a refrigerator. 

By being able to keep those vaccines, pharmacies like RX Express can hold an ample supply, for anyone of an approved age looking to be vaccinated. 

“We have quite a bit of Johnson and Johnson vaccines that do have that expiration date so the extension of that expiration date would be huge for pharmacies,” Parker said. “A lot of us have those and we would be able to use those instead of wasting them.”

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