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Why you might not get the J&J vaccine right now

The Biden administration is confused why the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains rare still

Syringes of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine wait to be used as registered nurse Mary Daily prepares to administer one to a patient at a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Intermountain Healthcare’s The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The recent pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could lift as soon as Friday.
Syringes of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine wait to be used as registered nurse Mary Daily prepares to administer one to a patient at a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Intermountain Healthcare’s The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray on Thursday, March 4, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine seemed like a sign that the vaccine rollout would only speed up. But now it appears the vaccine isn’t getting into arms, and officials remain confused as to why.

What’s going on?

Senior officials within President Joe Biden’s administration aren’t sure why the Johnson & Johnson vaccine isn’t being rolled out. Right now, 2.3 million of the 4.3 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered, according to Politico.

  • States still decide how their vaccines are distributed. Some officials believe “states are conserving their J&J supplies until there’s enough to reach underserved communities and specific groups, like teachers or the disabled,” per Politico.

Other states have said they’re using what they have available.

  • “Because states have final say in how their allotments are distributed, some are using the J&J vaccine on populations harder to reach for a second-shot appointment. Others are putting speed over equity and sending out the shots broadly,” according to Politico.

Is it safe?

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has approved the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, saying the one-shot dose makes it easier to distribute.

  • “As a one-dose vaccine, people do not have to return for a second dose to be protected,” Walensky said, according to CNN. “In addition, this vaccine does not need to be kept in a freezer and can be stored at refrigerated temperatures — so it is easy to transport and store and allows for expanded availability in most community settings and mobile sites, as supply scales up.”

Similarly, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s top infectious disease experts, said the J&J vaccine is safe because it has 72% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 but 100% efficacy against death and hospitalization.

Fauci said people should get the J&J vaccine since all vaccines are important right now.

  • “This is a race between the virus and getting vaccines into people. The longer someone waits to get vaccinated, the better chance the virus has to get a variant or a mutation. So the sooner we get vaccine into the arms of individuals, whatever that vaccine is, once it gets approved by the FDA, if it’s available to you, get it.”