MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — On Thursday, the Vermont Department of Health announced that all appointments to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been canceled through April 23 as the CDC investigates reported cases of severe blood clots among six people who received it.
Deputy Health Commissioner Kelly Dougherty said some Johnson & Johnson clinics have been converted to Pfizer or Moderna, and anyone who had an appointment canceled should be able to get in for a first dose by the end of April.
“If you are having trouble rescheduling an appointment, you can always call our call center regardless of where the original appointment was,” Dougherty said.
Anyone who had an appointment canceled through the state registration system should call the Health Department at (855) 722-7878.
In Vermont, roughly 4,000 appointments scheduled for this week have been canceled, and Thursday’s announcement means an additional 600 scheduled for next week have been impacted as well.
“We know it may be difficult to hear about more uncertainty right now, but this is science at work,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine. “This extreme caution is being taken to make sure we have all the information needed as we move forward in our vaccination efforts safely.”
Anyone who made an appointment with CVS or Walgreens should follow the pharmacies’ instructions for rescheduling.
Matt Bickford, a Jeffersonville resident who had a Johnson & Johnson appointment with a local pharmacy canceled, said it was a relatively easy transition.
“I would say within five or six hours of the news coming across that there was going to be a pause on Johnson & Johnson, the pharmacy where I had the appointment was able to assure me that my appointment would still be set, just switched over,” Bickford said.
The silver lining in all of this could be that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has only accounted for roughly 7 percent of Vermont’s total vaccine supply received to date, so even with this pause, the vaccination timeline should move forward as scheduled.
“At this point, we’re still planning to have registration open on Monday for 16-plus,” Dougherty said. “I think we’re going to be keeping a close eye on our numbers here over the next couple of days, but right now we are still operating under the assumption that we’re opening up 16-plus on Monday.”
The CDC and the FDA originally recommended the pause on Tuesday after six cases were reported in the U.S. of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The pause will give experts time to understand how to recognize and treat potentially at-risk patients appropriately. As of April 12, 7.2 million people had received the J&J vaccine.
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