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Pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine will mostly affect Delaware pharmacies

Daniel Schludi / Unsplash

State officials say the federal pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine use will have only a marginal effect on vaccine distribution locally—if it is not an extended pause.

The six cases of blood clots found in individuals after receiving the vaccine may have paused distribution of J & J doses nationally, but Delaware’s Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay says the state was already preparing to slow its use of it.

“We’d already adjusted to the fact that we learned last week that we were getting much less Johnson & Johnson in the state than we previously expected,” said Rattay.  

Rattay still warns there may be fewer invitations to upcoming events at Dover International Speedway because of the pause, but adds state-run vaccine clinics are emphasizing distribution of second doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and will not be significantly affected.

Pharmacies in Delaware, however, were expecting several thousand doses of J & J vaccine and will likely have to cancel appointments.

But Gov. John Carney says the impact of the pause on the vaccine will not have a significant effect on Delaware in the short term.

“Now if it goes on beyond that then it will have a larger impact on our operations and continue to impact on the pharmacies,” said Carney. “In the long term J & J is an important part of our distribution effort and obviously it will mean that we will have fewer people vaccinated faster.”  

Carney says he hopes for a “short delay with the utmost of caution,” but did not have sense of how long the pause would last—based on the most recent governors call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Delaware moved Tuesday to fully open its vaccination efforts to everyone over the age of 16. Previously, medical providers and hospital systems only vaccinated people with a high-risk medical condition.

The state is approaching vaccinating half of its total eligible population. 86 percent of all seniors in Delaware have been vaccinated.

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