Apr 14, 2021 - Health

J&J vaccine pause will have minimal impact on local vaccine rollout

Illustration of a shadow hovering over a giant red button with syringes in the shape of a pause symbol
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pause on administering Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine isn’t expected to have a huge impact on vaccine rollout across local communities.

Why it matters: Like the country writ large, most localities have vaccinated the vast majority of their citizens with the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots, which have more than enough supply to fill the gaps caused by the J&J pause.

  • But the ease of J&J's single shot is key to helping inoculate communities that can be difficult to reach, including college students and homeless populations.

The backdrop: The FDA recommended that states immediately stop use of the one-dose vaccine following reports that six women — out of nearly 7 million recipients — experienced an "extremely rare" blood clot disorder within weeks of their shot.

  • The guidance, issued "out of an abundance of caution," will allow health officials to take a closer look at the data and make a recommendation for identifying and treating at-risk individuals.
The local impact:

In Charlotte, health care providers Novant and Atrium Health, along with Mecklenburg County, are pausing J&J vaccines. But it will likely only cause a hiccup in the overall rollout.

  • Atrium, the biggest health system in the Carolinas, says because it didn’t have any J&J vaccines scheduled for the near future, the pause "will not affect current vaccination appointments."

Colorado and Denver officials are also halting J&J shots. About one in 10 people in Colorado who are fully immunized have received the J&J vaccine, according to state data.

  • That equals more than 122,000 people.

In Minnesota, the majority of doses administered — more than 90% — are from Moderna and Pfizer.

  • "We'll see about a 5% or so drop off [in supply] but it will not impact our desire and our nation-leading efforts to get 80% vaccinated," Gov. Tim Walz told reporters.

In Des Moines, the majority of vaccines provided have also been Moderna or Pfizer, Polk County Health Department spokesperson Nola Aigner Davis told Axios.

  • Des Moines Area Community College and University of Northern Iowa postponed or canceled clinics that were supposed to be held Tuesday using J&J. Students may have an option in coming days to get one of the two-dose vaccines, KCCI-TV reported.

This piece features reporting from Axios Charlotte's Paige Hopkins and Katie Peralta Soloff; Axios Denver's John Frank; Axios Des Moines' Jason Clayworth; and Axios Twin Cities' Torey Van Oot.

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