COLUMBUS — About $2 million in federal tax money could be wasted if 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses are not used by June 23, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

DeWine issued an urgent plea to the state’s vaccine providers late Monday night, asking them to distribute as many doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as quickly as possible. About 200,000 of those vaccines will expire June 23.

“For Ohioans who have been waiting to get their vaccine, I urge you to take action now. There are many opportunities throughout the state to get a vaccine,” DeWine said in a news release.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one of those options. It is safe and effective and only requires one shot. In just two weeks, you could be protected from this virus. Getting vaccinated is the quickest way out of the pandemic and the fastest way for us to return to the lives we remember.”

The federal government agreed to pay Johnson & Johnson $1 billion for 100 million doses of its vaccine, establishing a $10-a-dose price, according to the CDC. DeWine also said the state does not have legal options for sending the vaccine to other states or other countries.

The Ohio Department of Health has directed all providers to follow a first-in, first-out process for vaccines to make sure doses with the soonest expiration dates are being used first. It also has worked with vaccine providers to help find tactics to use as many Johnson & Johnson vaccines before they expire.

ODH worked to establish special vaccination clinics, more mobile vaccination opportunities and partnerships with community groups at community events.

Millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccines are scheduled to expire this month around the country, and hospitals, state health departments and the federal government are working to find ways to use those vaccines, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ reported the stockpiles are in part because of the decision in April to temporarily suspend those vaccines to study blood-clot risks.

More than 5.3 million Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccination process, and more than 4.7 million are fully vaccinated, according to DeWine.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is a single-dose vaccine for those age 18 and older. Those receiving the dose become fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the shot.

By J.D. Davidson

The Center Square