How Walgreens, CVS, states are handling the J&J vaccine pause

As the FDA and CDC have requested the U.S. halt its use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine following six reports of blood clots in people after receiving the shot, states and retail pharmacies are moving quickly to readjust their vaccination strategies. 

Walgreens said April 13 that it's immediately suspending use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccines at all of its stores and off-site clinics and is awaiting further guidance. 

"We are reaching out to patients with scheduled appointments and rescheduling vaccinations from other manufacturers, as supply allows," the retail pharmacy giant said. 

CVS has also paused use of the vaccine at all of its stores, CNBC reported. Company spokesperson Mike DeAngelis told CNBC that affected customers will receive an email letting them know their appointments are canceled and the store will follow up to reschedule. 

It's unclear how much of retail pharmacies' vaccine supply is from Johnson & Johnson versus other drugmakers, CNBC reported. Mr. DeAngelis declined to comment on how many CVS stores use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine versus Pfizer's or Moderna's. 

More than two dozen states and Washington, D.C., have already halted use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, stressing that it was out of an abundance of caution, CNBC reported. 

New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, MD, said the state will immediately stop using the vaccine and will use Pfizer's for already scheduled appointments. 

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, told CNBC people should be "cautious not to overinterpret" the FDA's decision to halt the vaccine. 

"Let's start with what the FDA didn't do. They didn't revoke the emergency use authorization. They didn't order this off the market," said Dr. Gottlieb, who also serves on Pfizer's board of directors. "This was a requested pause, which is an awkward regulatory step, but I think it reflects the level of caution on their part to not to appear to act too forcefully here." 

He added that he thinks the vaccine could come back into use "with some additional, perhaps, restrictions on its target populations in the interim while they continue to investigate this," CNBC reported. 

Kavita Patel, MD, a primary care physician in Washington, D.C., who served as director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement during the Obama administration, told CNBC she believes the pause will have lasting effects on the U.S.' effort to end the pandemic.

"This is a devastating blow to this J&J vaccine effort in the United States," she said. 

She added that the supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines won't be able to quickly make up for the demand and the pause will delay U.S. vaccination efforts, CNBC reported.

More articles on pharmacy:
Side effects of J&J shot no cause for concern, experts say
Pfizer seeks FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15
Regeneron requests FDA approval for antibody cocktail to be used as preventive


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