COVID Vaccine Appointments Widely Available In Minnesota Even After Pause On Johnson & Johnson

More than half of Minnesotans 16 and older have at least one COVID-19 vaccine, Liz Collin reports (2:00). WCCO 4 News At 6 - April 19, 2021

Video Transcript

- More than half of Minnesotans 16 and older have at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

- And while the state continues to rank among the best at getting shots in arms, we wondered what impact the absence of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might have. Liz Collin looks at the line up outside an unlikely vaccine clinic and shares how demand for the shot is decreasing.

JILL DRISCOLL: Some of my friends have been doing the state fair event, and I told them that I was going somewhere cooler, to First Ave.

LIZ COLLIN: It's been more than a year since Minnesotans have lined up outside a music venue, only Jill Driscoll wasn't catching a show, but a shot inside.

JILL DRISCOLL: I heard about the event on the Minnesota Vaccine Hunters page, that they were looking to fill extra spots. So I got an appointment for myself and my son

LIZ COLLIN: The Vaccine Hunters Facebook page has helped people find appointments since February. Where Minnesotans once drove to other states, one of the pages administrators told me those who now want a shot are usually able to find one within a week with extra doses becoming more common.

MAURA CALDWELL: I'm just seeing less and less people feeling desperate. It's hard to fill appointments right now.

LIZ COLLIN: Maura Caldwell says that's even the case despite the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on pause due to reports of blood clots. What do you think the absence of this vaccine really means here in Minnesota?

DR. FRANK RHAME: So I think it's going to slow things down.

LIZ COLLIN: Dr. Frank Rhame helped lead a clinical trial of that vaccine last fall. He worries last week's news creates hesitancy to be vaccinated for COVID-19 altogether, but more so what it means on a global scale, where the Johnson & Johnson dose is easier to store and a better fit for poor countries.

DR. FRANK RHAME: I think it's going to do damage to our ability to get everybody vaccinated, especially otherwise we'd be able to.

LIZ COLLIN: Liz Collin, WCCO 4 News.

- The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says he believes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will resume soon, likely with a warning or restriction. He expects a decision on the vaccine's fate by Friday.