Chicago Health Officials Concerned About Impact Of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Pause

The federal government was getting ready to shift to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the United Center mass vaccination site next week, but now, the CDC and FDA recommended a "pause" in the use of the vaccine while they investigate six cases of "a rare and severe type of blood clot" in people who received it. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports.

Video Transcript

- The Federal government was getting ready to shift to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the United Center mass vaccination site next week. CBS2 investigator, Megan Hickey, live at the UC. Meghan, what's going to happen now?

MEGHAN HICKEY: Brad, the Chicago Department of Public Health says they're still waiting for an update from the Federal government, which runs this site. That change was announced just two days ago, and it was not set to take effect until April 20th. Today, Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health said the Johnson & Johnson vaccination pause will not impact operations here at the United Center this week, because right now they are still administering the Pfizer vaccine. Next week's vaccinations are to be determined.

At the state, county, and city level, Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been paused starting today. All homebound vaccination programs and vaccine bus programs which rely on Johnson & Johnson because of the less rigorous cold storage requirements have been paused. Employer-based vaccinations at O'Hare and Midway have also been postponed. Doctor Arwady said she worries about the impact that this pause could have on vaccine hesitancy across the city, but she's encouraging Chicagoans to keep their Pfizer and Moderna appointments.

ALLISON ARWADY: I am concerned because I know people will have concern when they hear this. And we want, you know, getting Chicago past COVID. Getting the US passed COVID means getting us vaccinated.

SAM TOIA: We had over 600 people that were scheduled to get the vaccine, the J&J vaccine. Obviously, was disappointed, but the health of our team members is always number one. Again, this is postponed.

MEGHAN HICKEY: The president of the Illinois Restaurant Association spoke to us about how a fully booked vaccination events scheduled for today is now having to be rescheduled. We'll have more on what it means for the hospitality industry. Workers trying to get vaccinated coming up tonight in hour 18 at 6:00.

Now, Cook County tells me their only mass vaccination site impacted is the one in Tinley Park. We should note that in the state of Illinois, of the nearly 7.3 million doses administered, only about 4%, or 290,000 of them have been J&J. Live at the United Center, Megan Hickey. CBS2 investigators.