McKesson Begins Distributing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

March 01, 2021

IRVING, Texas, March 1, 2021 — As a centralized distribution partner for the U.S. government’s COVID vaccine distribution effort, McKesson today began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine received from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The Janssen vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Feb. 27 and is the first one-shot COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized for use in the United States.

McKesson was selected by the U.S. government in August 2020 to operate as the centralized distributor for frozen and refrigerated COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supply kits needed to administer them. In December 2020, McKesson began distributing the ancillary supply kits for Pfizer BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. Later that month, the company began distributing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and ancillary supply kits.

McKesson has established four dedicated distribution centers which will be specifically used to distribute the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and future refrigerated vaccines. The U.S. government makes all program administration decisions, including where, when and how many vaccine doses McKesson will distribute.

Key facts include:

  • McKesson, a global leader in healthcare and supply chain management, is managing two different aspects of the distribution efforts in coordination with the U.S. government. The company is producing all supply kits for COVID-19 vaccines, as well as distributing frozen and refrigerated COVID-19 vaccines. McKesson is not distributing the Pfizer ultra-frozen vaccine.
  • From a distribution perspective, McKesson continues to stay on target to meet the U.S. government’s plan to ultimately distribute hundreds of millions of frozen and refrigerated vaccine doses.
  • Regardless if it is a frozen or refrigerated vaccine, maintaining the cold chain is a priority. Upon arrival at a McKesson vaccine distribution center, McKesson will verify that the vaccines were maintained at the proper temperature while in transit and will place the vaccines inside either a large-scale, pharmaceutical-grade refrigerator or freezer designed to maintain proper temperatures.
  • Both the refrigerators and freezers are equipped with sophisticated controls, monitoring systems and alarms intended to ensure the vaccines remain within the appropriate temperature ranges.

After receiving orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccine doses will be packed inside insulated coolers which are designed differently for frozen and refrigerated vaccines. A temperature monitor is placed inside the coolers so the administration site can verify that the vaccine doses stayed within the required temperature range during transit.

  • For the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the ancillary supply kit normally will be sent before or at the same time as the vaccines. The kits include alcohol prep pads, face shields, surgical masks, needles and syringes, a vaccine administration sheet, and a vaccine record and reminder card.
  • Once McKesson receives new vaccine and ancillary supply kit orders from the U.S. government, most orders are shipped by our partners FedEx or UPS within 1-2 business days to the specified point-of-care facilities nationwide. McKesson works seven days a week to fulfill all orders.
  • McKesson’s medical and pharmaceutical supply chain operates separately from the COVID-19 vaccine program – allowing us to provide the focused support needed to meet the needs to vaccinate Americans throughout the country.
  • McKesson has a long history of managing the pharmaceutical and medical supply chain in the U.S., as well as handling vaccines. The company has been the centralized distributor for the CDC’s Vaccines for Children program since 2006 and during the H1N1 public health crisis in 2009.

McKesson partners closely with the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For the ancillary supply kit production and distribution, McKesson has partnered with the Strategic National Stockpile, which is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within HHS.

About McKesson Corporation

McKesson Corporation is a global leader in healthcare supply chain management solutions, retail pharmacy, community oncology and specialty care, and healthcare information solutions. McKesson partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers, providers, pharmacies, governments and other organizations in healthcare to help provide the right medicines, medical products and healthcare services to the right patients at the right time, safely and cost-effectively. United by our ICARE shared principles, our employees work every day to innovate and deliver opportunities that make our customers and partners more successful – all for the better health of patients. McKesson has been named a “Most Admired Company” in the healthcare wholesaler category by FORTUNE, a “Best Place to Work” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and a top military-friendly company by Military Friendly. For more information, visit

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