Huntsville pharmacist says J&J vaccine benefits greatly outweigh risks


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Pharmacists in Alabama said they are happy to see the CDC and FDA lift the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When the J&J pause began, the state had more than 88,0000 unused doses. Now that the pause is lifted, providers haven’t wasted any time when it comes to putting those shots in the arms of Alabamians.

Chase Pharmacy was one of 300 pharmacies in the state asked to put their vaccination effort on hold. About 100 doses sat in the fridge as the pharmacy waited for guidance from the government.

“It was disappointing because we had a lot of people signed up ready to get their vaccine and we had to call everybody and cancel their appointments and let them know we don’t know when we’re going to be able to reschedule you,” said Haley Jordan, pharmacist.

The Alabama Department of Public Health does not have data on how many people with an appointment to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were in that same situation. But when the pause began, Alabama officials said the state had received 160,000 J&J vaccines and only about 71,000 had been administered.

An APDH spokesperson told News 19 that if Johnson and Johnson providers could house the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, the state would order it for them. But not all pharmacies wtih the ability to house the mRNA vaccines got the opportunity to provide them during the pause.

“We tried to order some, but never got any,” Jordan said.

ADPH says the pause did not affect the state’s overall supply of vaccines since Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were still being ordered from the federal government.

15 J&J vaccines were administered at Chase Pharmacy Monday. People receiving the inoculation may have noticed new information on the vaccine’s fact sheet before they got the shot.

“There is some new wording in the fact sheet that we give out that states that there is a very rare risk of blood clots, but otherwise we are just proceeding as we were.

And in terms of that risk – the pharmacist had this to say…

‘The benefit of getting it greatly outweighs the risk,” Jordan stated.

While J&J providers across Alabama were able to administer the one-dose vaccine beginning this weekend, ADPH has not yet updated its guidance on the shot. State officials say they are waiting for the CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” before providing additional information.

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