coronavirus vaccine

J&J Vaccine ‘Pause' Will Make Finding Vaccine Even Harder in Pa., NJ

All adults over 16 years old are now eligible for the vaccine in Pennsylvania, but Tuesday's big stepback for one of three FDA-approved vaccines will cause backlogs for already swamped distribution efforts.

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It hasn't been easy to get a vaccine appointment in Pennsylvania, which just expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and over Tuesday.

Now, the federal government's decision to stop giving out Johnson & Johnson vaccines will make it even tougher.

Philadelphia and some suburban counties immediately halted giving out the one-shot vaccine as the rare reactions are investigated by the federal government. In New Jersey, health officials also decided to pause any use of the J&J vaccine.

If you have a vaccine scheduled for Tuesday or the rest of this week, be sure to contact the site to make sure it is open. In Philadelphia, for instance, the federally-run vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center said it would shift to Pfizer doses for the rest of the week.

An email was sent out by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to "COVID Vaccine Providers" that said all J&J vaccines should be paused as the state's medical team could review the findings.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, explains what to monitor if you recently received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The FEMA-run site at Esperanza in Philadelphia’s Hunting Park neighborhood, which is aimed at serving the Hispanic community, closed Tuesday to regroup after the J&J pause.

Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health said it would follow the federal lead and stopping giving out doses of the J&J vaccine “until we receive further guidance.”

The city's top health official, Dr. Thomas Farley, said he doesn't know how long the stoppage on issuing the J&J dose will last, but said it may only be a few days. He said the city would be able to pivot to other vaccines in the days ahead, and would request more Pfizer and Moderna doses from the federal government next week if the halt on J&J doses continues.

“Details on the specific changes to clinics will be forthcoming, but some clinics will be closed today and others will be switched to other types of vaccine, a PDPH spokesman said in a statement.

Philadelphia’s Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium had told NBC10 they would suspend use of the J&J vaccine at their clinics. They will continue to administer the Moderna vaccine.

In Bucks County, the Warwick Square vaccine site was closed Tuesday. It is the only county site that had the J&J vaccine. All other county mass vaccine sites will continue to give out doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Nearly 7 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S. to date.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating unusual clots in six women that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said all of the state's vaccination sites — about 700 total, officials have said — will cancel or put appointments for the J&J vaccine on hold.

The pause in New Jersey comes just as the supply of J&J vaccines ebbs from more than 130,000 last week to 15,000 this week. Next week just 5,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine are expected, Persichilli said.

The other two authorized vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, make up the vast share of COVID-19 shots administered in the U.S. and are not affected by the pause.

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