By Talal Ansari and Jim Carlton
Vaccination sites across the country canceled thousands of
appointments after U.S. health authorities paused the use of
Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 shots Tuesday over reports of rare
but severe blood clots, while other sites scrambled to switch to
one of the two other authorized vaccines.
In New York City, 4,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccination
appointments are being rescheduled, Mayor Bill de Blasio said
Tuesday. In Alaska, officials said they were holding 24,322 doses
of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that had not yet been
administered pending further review. And in Washington state,
hundreds of patients scheduled to receive the single-dose vaccine
at a fairground were told they would instead get the first of two
doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
"It's a less than one-in-a-million chance of this side effect,"
said Umair Shah, an emergency physician who was appointed
Washington's secretary of health last year, at a news conference
Tuesday. "This action is being taken out of extreme caution."
Numerous states announced that they would follow the new
guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
In California, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine accounts for 4%
of the overall supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. "We do not
anticipate this pause to impact our supply or vaccine distribution
efforts," the governor's press office said in a statement.
Nationwide, federal officials expected to allocate about 26.5
million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc. vaccines
combined this week, compared with 1.5 million of J&J's.
Federal authorities recommended a temporary halt to use of the
J&J vaccine after six women between the ages of 18 and 48 years
who got the vaccine developed blood clots, and one died. Over seven
million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the U.S.,
according to the CDC.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was the third coronavirus
inoculation to be approved after those of Pfizer-BioNTech and
Moderna. Unlike the other two, it requires only one dose.
"I was a little disappointed my daughter couldn't get a time
slot, but given her blood clotting disorder I am relieved," Joanne
Hunter of Snohomish, Wash., said in a parent Facebook group for
Southern California's Chapman University, where her 18-year-old
daughter, Cara, is a freshman.
Ms. Hunter said in an interview that her daughter would wait
until she returns home for summer break before attempting to get a
Some health researchers said the pause could harden beliefs
among people who believe that Covid vaccinations aren't safe,
despite their approval by federal health agencies. A February poll
by the Pew Research Center found that 30% of Americans said they do
not plan on getting vaccinated, with the majority citing side
effects as their main concern.
"People who were already in the group who said 'this was too
rushed and we don't know how safe it is' -- it gives them one more
reason to decline the vaccine," said William Curry, a professor of
medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Johnson & Johnson's single dose has emerged as the preferred
vaccine for some underserved communities, including the homeless
and certain isolated communities where patients find it harder to
return for a second injection. The J&J shot also doesn't
require the same degree of cold storage as the Pfizer and Moderna
vaccines, making it easier to transport and store.
"With hard-to-reach populations, you really want to be able to
give a vaccine shot just once," said Keith Mueller, a specialist in
rural health policy at the University of Iowa's College of Public
Some remote rural counties in the U.S. were already contending
with a shortage of qualified medical personnel to administer
vaccines, or not enough chain pharmacies with the proper
infrastructure to distribute shots. The pause "slows down some of
the momentum that was building to use Johnson & Johnson to get
to those populations," Mr. Mueller said.
In Sacramento County, Calif., officials canceled 800
appointments for the Johnson & Johnson shot scheduled for
Tuesday and Wednesday at the cavernous Cal Expo building and
supplemented two clinics that were supposed to administer those
shots with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Janna Haynes, spokeswoman for Sacramento County Public Health,
said the pause wasn't too disruptive because the county had been
allocated only 1,700 doses of the J&J vaccine for this week
compared with 11,700 doses of Pfizer and 6,800 of Moderna.
At the Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, where J&J
was to be given out, she said a line wrapped around the building
with people waiting to receive injections of either Pfizer or
Moderna despite the county's offer to reschedule appointments.
"The atmosphere was celebratory," Ms. Haynes said of the school
vaccination area, where upbeat pop music played Tuesday.
--Robbie Whelan contributed to this article.
Write to Talal Ansari at Talal.Ansari@wsj.com and Jim Carlton at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 14, 2021 11:34 ET (15:34 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.