States Battle With Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause as Federal Officers Reassure Public

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci mentioned on Thursday that he hoped the nation would quickly have the ability to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as a “pause” that now appears indefinite threatened to upend vaccination efforts abroad and in among the most marginalized communities in america.

Dr. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser for the pandemic, made the remark throughout a listening to of the Home Choose Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Disaster, the place he and different high federal well being officers implored People to proceed to get vaccinated and sought to reassure the nation that each one three federally approved vaccines are protected.

“Hopefully we’ll get a call fairly quickly, as as to whether or not we will get again on observe with this very efficient vaccine,” Dr. Fauci advised the panel. With circumstances rising within the Midwest, he added, the nation is in a “precarious state of affairs” and it’s crucial to vaccinate “as many individuals as shortly and as expeditiously as we potential can.”

But it surely was more and more clear {that a} suspension that originally was to final two to a few days could be significantly longer, as officers wrestled with studies of at the very least six uncommon circumstances of blood clotting amongst girls immunized with the Johnson & Johnson shot. Federal well being companies try to determine whether or not to suggest that docs resume use of the vaccine, probably with new restrictions.

The vaccine has not been a serious element of the Biden administration’s vaccination marketing campaign. About 7.7 million People have acquired the Johnson & Johnson shot, accounting for fewer than 4 p.c of the greater than 198 million doses administered throughout the nation.

However whereas these numbers are small, most of the individuals the vaccine has been focused at are susceptible: homeless individuals in Baltimore, homebound residents within the District of Columbia, the poor and uninsured in Massachusetts, rural residents in various states. All are populations simpler to succeed in with a single dose than the two-dose routine of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

About 10 million doses shipped to the states at the moment are on cabinets awaiting a call. And many individuals who may not hunt down a shot however might have been reached with cell clinics and concerted outreach could also be left behind, at the very least for now.

“There’s a substantial amount of work occurring with all of our vaccinators, suppliers across the state and with our crew on the Minnesota Division of Well being attempting to assist plan and shifting issues round. It’s a collection of dominoes, clearly,” mentioned Jan Malcolm, Minnesota’s well being commissioner. “We very a lot remorse the clinics that needed to be canceled on quick discover due to the pause in J&J, and that may proceed to be a problem within the coming couple of weeks.”

The White Home press secretary, Jen Psaki, once more calibrated President Biden’s promise that he would safe sufficient vaccine for all American adults by the tip of Might. Now, the White Home is emphasizing that each one adults who need a vaccine will get one.

Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the health commissioner in Baltimore, said the city had received only about 1,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to date, but many were targeted at homeless residents. The city may have to rethink plans it had been making for outdoor pop-up clinics and efforts to reach homebound residents with the one-dose vaccine this summer, she said.

“We were thinking the J&J would be the ideal candidate to support that work,” she said.

In Washington, D.C., officials are delaying a program to reach homebound residents with Johnson & Johnson shots. The city canceled appointments for about 1,200 people this week, but by now all should have received an invitation for a new appointment for one of the other two federally authorized vaccines, developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Other state and local health officials said they were getting by with those two vaccines. In the Flint, Mich., area, which has some of the country’s highest recent case rates, officials said they had been able to cover all planned clinics even without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“It has been smooth so far,” Dr. Pamela Hackert, the medical health officer for the Genesee County Health Department, said in an email.

At Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, administrators have been able to set up three on-campus clinics this month where students will be able to receive a two-dose vaccine. Rob Denson, the college president, said he had been pleased and surprised at his ability to arrange those future clinics so quickly.

“I think we’re going to be awash in vaccine within a relatively short amount of time,” he said.

But an extended break in Johnson & Johnson availability will begin to pinch, especially in poorer states with harder-to-reach populations. A spokeswoman for Dr. José Romero, the secretary of health in Arkansas, said that “the pause should be a sufficient length to answer safety questions, but not extended any longer than necessary.

“His concern is that an overlong pause will increase hesitancy and decrease confidence,” said the spokeswoman, Danyelle McNeill. Dr. Romero leads the advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will ultimately recommend how to proceed with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The suspension in the United States may have more profound consequences overseas, where only a fraction of the rest of the world has so far been vaccinated. Dr. Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the Food and Drug Administration who also served on the National Security Council in the Trump White House, said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was a crucial tool for stopping the spread of the virus around the world.

“It’s a vaccine that can be manufactured quickly in very large scale and has much easier distribution procedures,” she said. “The world needs more companies like J&J supplying their vaccine.”

Officials were counting on both Johnson & Johnson and another easy-to-distribute vaccine made by AstraZeneca to get inoculations to hard-to-reach parts of the globe. But recent reports of rare blood clots in recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine have led a number of nations to reconsider its use.

Some regions decided to shift to Johnson & Johnson; two weeks ago, the African Union acquired 400 million doses even as wealthier nations have shied away. The European Union said it would not buy more from Johnson & Johnson, and Australia announced it would not purchase any doses.

In the United States, members of the C.D.C. advisory panel suggested during an emergency meeting on Wednesday that it would be a week to 10 days before they had enough information to assess the vaccine’s risks and could make a decision about its future in the United States. The C.D.C. announced Thursday that the panel would hold another emergency meeting on April 23.

At Thursday’s listening to, Dr. Fauci and two different officers — Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, and Dr. David Kessler, who runs the Biden administration’s vaccine effort — urged People to proceed to get vaccinated.

And there is early evidence that the concern is well taken. A Survey Monkey poll released on Thursday by Boston Children’s Hospital found that a willingness to get the Johnson & Johnson shot dropped 26 percentage points in two days among Americans who wanted to get vaccinated. The drop among women who wanted to get vaccinated was 31 percentage points, according to the survey, a project from the hospital’s Outbreaks Near Me initiative, a crowdsourced infectious disease surveillance system.

“Anytime there is a concern or red flag raised at the federal level, that’s going to spark concern for the general public,” Dr. Dzirasa said.

Thursday’s session was subtitled “A Science-Driven Approach to Swiftly and Safely Ending the Pandemic.” But whatever science was discussed was overshadowed by partisan posturing and bickering.

Democrats worried about the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has used his show to wrongly assert that the vaccines do not work.

Republicans, fresh off a trip to the nation’s southern border, used the session to attack the Biden administration’s handling of the immigration crisis. They waved photographs of migrants living in crowded conditions, while complaining about testing rules for those entering the country.

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, and Dr. Fauci reprised their heated clash from the last time Dr. Fauci testified before the panel in July.

“You’re ranting again,” Dr. Fauci said at one point.

“I’m not ranting,” Mr. Jordan replied.

“Yes, you are,” Dr. Fauci insisted.

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, whose sister died of Covid-19, told Dr. Fauci, “I love you,” and told Mr. Jordan, “Shut your mouth.”

Noah Weiland, Rebecca Robbins and Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting.

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