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CDC shares distribution and messaging advice on Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine

Ahead of the authorization of the U.S.' first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated state and local partners on distribution plans for Johnson & Johnson's new vaccine — expected to be made available for ordering Sunday — according to a pre-decision draft and CDC talking points obtained by CBS News. 

The CDC said the J&J vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine, is expected to be authorized as soon as Saturday and recommended for use Sunday. It would be the third COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized by the FDA. On Friday, an FDA panel voted unanimously to clear the way for the regulator to issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration's scientists said that overall, the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.  

The CDC told state and local health officials it expects that the 3.9 million Janssen doses will likely be divided as follows: 2.8 million doses for states, 800,000 doses for retail pharmacies, 70,000 doses for community vaccine centers, and 90,000 doses for federally qualified health centers.  

"There will be limited supply of Janssen vaccine in the short term," the draft CDC document says. "Weekly allocations may vary based on availability for the first few weeks."  

Johnson & Johnson originally said it planned to deliver 10 million doses by the end of February.  

These new doses are expected to arrive one or two days after orders are placed and will be sent via UPS and FedEx, the same companies that are delivering the other COVID-19 vaccines, according to the document obtained by CBS News.  

The CDC also distributed "key messages" on the single-dose vaccine, recommending that jurisdictions use the following language: "All the available vaccines have been proven effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease."

The CDC's recommended messaging also says that "getting vaccinated with the first vaccine available to you can help protect you from COVID-19." This advice is aimed at those who might hesitate to take the  J&J vaccine because clinical trials have shown its efficacy in preventing infection is lower than the other vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. Public officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky have for weeks been praising the efficacy of J&J's version.  

NBC News first reported similar messaging recommendations from the White House. 

The single-dose vaccine will be transported, stored, and refrigerated at temperatures between 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and will contain five doses per vial, according to the CDC document. The storage requirements for the J&J vaccine are easier to maintain than those of Pfizer and Moderna, which require sub-zero temperatures to remain viable for longer periods of time.

"A single-dose vaccine may be desirable for people who want to complete their immunization schedule quickly, do not want to return for a second dose or have difficulty returning for a second dose," the CDC document says. "A single doses vaccine may also be beneficial for settings where a walk in model is used, or areas with less access to online scheduling models pose challenges."  

"We may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us," CDC's Walensky said Friday "We cannot get comfortable or give in to a false sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Not now, not when mass vaccination is so very close." 

The CDC did not immediately respond to request for comment.  

Alexander Tin contributed to this report.

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