J&J vaccine drive stalls in U.S. after safety pause

It was once hailed as the vaccine for rural areas and those hesitant to get a shot. But the U.S. rollout for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine has slowed to a crawl. Nearly half of the 21 million doses made for the U.S. sit unused.

The problem? Safety concerns about J&J in particular and flagging demand for vaccinations overall. Interviews with experts and government data show Americans have largely avoided J&J’s vaccine since it has been back in use following a two-week pause in mid-April to study a rare safety issue. The U.S. said it found only 15 cases of a syndrome involving severe blood clots and low platelets in the 8 million shots given.

Still, it’s had a lasting impact. Fewer than 650,000 got the shot in the week ended May 25. That’s down from nearly 3 million in the week leading up to the suspension.

What’s more, while demand for all vaccines has slowed since mid-April, J&J’s drop has been significantly steeper.

The slowdown may mean some J&J doses will expire unused. A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson declined to comment on the number of doses expiring before the end of June.

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