Maine is planning to order 11,500 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, state officials announced Saturday, just hours after it gained federal approval.

The one-dose vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Saturday, making it the third vaccine available for use in the United States. In a press release Saturday evening, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would arrive in Maine “in a few short days.”

Gov. Janet Mills said in the same release that the new vaccine comes at “the right time” for Maine, as the state will begin to expand vaccination eligibility to people 60 and older this coming week.

“As soon as we receive our allotment, we will work with health care providers to get these vaccines into the arms of Maine people as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Mills said. “My most fundamental goal is to save lives, and this new, one-shot vaccine will help us accomplish that.”

Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the FDA’s emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine expands the state’s vaccination options. The press release called the 11,500 doses  the state’s “first order” of the new vaccine.

“Because it’s fully effective with one shot and does not require ultracold storage, some of the challenges we faced when previous vaccines were approved will not be a factor as we distribute this vaccine to sites throughout Maine,” Shah said.

The press release said DHHS and the Maine CDC expect to distribute the 11,500 doses to hospitals, independent pharmacies, emergency medical services and outpatient groups.

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