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The general population won't get vaccines until May, Fauci tells William & Mary students

The general population won't get vaccines until May, Fauci tells William & Mary students

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Young adults without underlying conditions shouldn’t expect to receive a COVID-19 vaccination until May, a month later than previously estimated, Dr. Anthony Fauci told students at the College of William & Mary last week.

The government’s most recognizable face in response to the coronavirus, Fauci previously said April would be “open season” for inoculations. But delays to the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine likely means shots won’t be made available to the general population until a month later.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the Johnson & Johnson shot for emergency use. But independent regulators could suggest approval as early as this week.

Johnson & Johnson initially believed it would produce 100 million shots for Americans by March and April, Fauci said. Now those shots aren’t expected until May or June. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires only one shot and doesn’t need super-cold storage, like vials from Pfizer and Moderna do.

On his call with William & Mary students, Fauci encouraged immunocompromised people to receive the vaccine, because it doesn’t inject a virus into the person’s body.

“There’s not a safety issue with immunocompromised people,” Fauci said.

Immunocompromised people may not be able to build a robust antibody response to the virus after they receive the vaccine. But the shot will give some protection, and that’s better than no protection, Fauci said.

William & Mary President Katherine Rowe asked what roles universities play in preventing future pandemics. Fauci answered that schools should encourage students to pursue degrees in public health and environmental health. Veterinary science is important, too, he said; 75% of emerging infections jump from animals to humans.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

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Eric Kolenich writes about higher education, sports, coronavirus and protests for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 after graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in English. (804) 649-6109

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