What Happens If You Already Have A Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Appointment?

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the United States pause its use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after multiple instances of “rare and severe” blood clotting were reported. 
There were six reported cases of blood clots; to compare, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the United States, making this an incredibly rare reaction. But because we're dealing with new vaccines and a novel virus, health officials are being extremely cautious, and have concluded that it's best to stop vaccinating people with the one-shot vaccine for now. Which might leave people who had an appointment to receive the J&J jab wondering: What now?
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All federal health channels — such as mass vaccination sites and community health centers — are immediately halting administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for the time being, reports CNN. The CDC and FDA are recommending that states do the same; however, it will be up to each individual state to make that decision, as they are given separate allocations of doses.
Right now, all states have halted the use of J&J until there is more information available. But because each state has a different vaccine rollout strategy, they will likely have different ways of dealing with the pause, too. In New York State, for instance, people with appointments to get the J&J vaccine will instead receive Pfizer, according to a statement from Howard Zucker, MD, the NYS Department of Health Commissioner. Many other states seem to be following suit, and plan to give people with existing appointments the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine instead.
But some locations are having to reschedule or cancel existing appointments now that the J&J vaccine is temporarily unavailable. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced: "J&J vaccine appointments will be canceled or put on hold at all New Jersey vaccination sites until further notice. The New Jersey Department of Health will work with all vaccination sites to make arrangements for the administration of an alternative two-dose vaccine." But many sites that are distributing vaccines throughout the state have said that they won't be canceling appointments and will be offering alternate vaccines instead.
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Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the FDA, said in a news conference that the pause is expected to be short, only “a matter of days,” depending on on what they learn from thoroughly investigating each of the cases. The CDC is expected to convene an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to review all six instances before deciding whether the vaccine should continue to be distributed to all adults, or certain age groups or populations. Currently, there are approximately nine million more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that have been shipped out to various states, according to data from the CDC.
In a statement sent to Refinery29, Johnson & Johnson said: “We are aware of the extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine...We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public.”
If you have an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the coming days, keep an eye on your email and your phone to see if you receive a cancelation or rescheduling notification. You can also call your state's vaccine hotline or your vaccine site, if you have the number, to ask for next steps. But for now, it looks like there's a good chance you can still show up to your appointment and receive a two-dose mRNA vaccine instead of the J&J one-shot.
Additional reporting by Molly Longman.

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