Pause in Vaccinations Leads to Canceled Appointments Across States


The Albany County Health Department in New York said it would be providing doses of Pfizer for a Johnson & Johnson clinic at a local university on Tuesday. The Detroit Chief Public Health Officer said people who had appointments for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a city-operated location will be able to keep their time and receive a Pfizer or Moderna shot. And New Hampshire officials who had planned to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in clinics and for patients in the home country on Tuesday said they would work to find Pfizer or Moderna doses instead.


April 13, 2021, 10:49 p.m. ET

“This news is not going to slow New Hampshire down,” Governor Chris Sununu said in a statement. “While the federal government has taken a brief hiatus on the J&J vaccine, the state is already working with our partners to ensure they have alternative care of Pfizer or Moderna to continue their efforts today.”

But in some places there was no immediate alternative. In Aurora, Illinois, a mass vaccination clinic scheduled for Tuesday was canceled, leaving 1,000 patients without an appointment. In Riverside County, California, mobile clinics that planned to vaccinate about 400 people in less populous areas on Tuesday have been canceled. And in rural Jefferson County, southeast Iowa, a last-minute Johnson & Johnson clinic aimed at manufacturing workers was scrapped.

“It was so heartbreaking for me,” said Christine Estle, the county nurse, who said she and her colleagues had encouraged the approximately 140 planned people to make appointments at local pharmacies or hospitals.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has long been considered key to the country’s vaccination effort because, unlike the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer therapies, it requires only one shot and is easier to store. In cities across the country, public health experts had begun using the vaccine in places where reluctance to get one shot – let alone two – is great.

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“I just want to do whatever I can to ensure that the people who have signed up for appointments still come to them with Pfizer or Moderna,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago public health commissioner, feared the hiatus would undermine vaccine confidence and that she had already heard from skeptical patients asking if the other shots were safe.

Dr. Arwady said her department used the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to reach people who would otherwise be unlikely to find one, by offering it in workplaces, churches and even along bus routes.



Robert Dunfee