PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — While officials investigate the Johnson &Johnson vaccine’s link to rare but dangerous side effects, the nation goes from three vaccines down to two.
However, local health officials say this won’t slow down our vaccine progress.
Local clinics were able to quickly pivot and adjust, and some didn’t miss a single day of giving vaccines. Christopher Newport University was one of the clinics that managed to stay open despite the swap in vaccines.
Dr. Mike Dacey, the COO and president of Riverside Health System, helps oversee the clinic at Christopher Newport University. Dacey said his team managed to get J&J doses swapped with Pfizer in about an hour and a half.
“It was more difficult than it seemed and I think the great strength of the consortium between the health department, health systems, and the cities and towns working together is how we were able to make that transition literally in about 90 minutes,” explained Dacey. “Pretty quickly we were able to get the resources because we all know what stores of vaccines we have, what’s due over the next week or two in terms of second doses, so it allowed us to make that substitution.”
Dacey said the pause in J&J won’t affect vaccination progress on the Virginia Peninsula because they didn’t depend heavily on the J&J vaccine. According to Dacey, J&J vaccines only made up about 1% of shots given out in the Peninsula Health District.
Other clinics had to briefly close and reorganize.
The J&J clinic at Elizabeth City State University closed for a few days, but now officials confirm 300 doses of Moderna are on the way to ECSU. Vaccinations will resume Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.
Last week, Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said an expected shortage of J&J vaccines this week would most affect the state’s vaccination efforts at colleges and universities.