Loss Of Many Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Sparks Concerns About Progress In Chicago

A vaccine mixup in Baltimore will have a local impact, after roughly 15 million Johnson & Johnson doses had to be tossed. CBS 2's Marissa Parra reports.

Video Transcript

- Now back to the concerns over COVID-19. Just as cases go up, a vaccine mix-up forces Johnson & Johnson to destroy 15 million vaccines. CBS 2's Marissa Para explains how this is impacting Chicagoans waiting to get shots.

[WHOOSH]

MARISSA PARA: In the race to get people vaccinated before another surge, an unexpected hurdle. This after an accidental mix-up in a Baltimore facility led to roughly 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine being tossed out.

DAVID AGUS: Your heart just sinks. And every vaccine is literally a life that has the potential of being saved.

MARISSA PARA: And in the world of vaccines, Dr. David Agus points out that the Johnson & Johnson is the equalizer. Liquid gold, it's easy to handle, and it's a one-stop shot.

DAVID AGUS: This is a vaccine that can go to people, rather than people coming to the vaccine.

MARISSA PARA: Health departments like Chicago's have big plans for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, like using it for mass vaccination sites, bringing it to congregate settings like O'Hare Airport, and using the vaccine to expand programs that bring the vaccines to the homes of people who can't leave theirs. Chicago's top doc, Dr. Allison Arwady, says as we receive less Pfizer and Moderna, the city is banking on Johnson & Johnson, this week receiving almost 40,000 doses.

ALLISON ARWADY: We had heard that there would be, sort of, more growth there. I am concerned that potentially, you know, for the next couple of weeks, we may get very little.

MARISSA PARA: County health departments told me they're waiting to find out how much or how little of the vaccine they'll get.

Do you think there's more of a concern for health departments in large cities like Chicago, as opposed to more rural areas?

DAVID AGUS: Big cities have significant populations that are underserved. These are vaccines that the Chicagos of the world really need as soon as possible.

MARISSA PARA: In just one week, Chicago's COVID-19 positivity rate has risen from 3.4% to 4.6%. Experts point out in this race, every delay, big or small, matters.

DAVID AGUS: So we had a chance here of potentially getting 15 million people immunized and with immunity, and we've lost that opportunity.

MARISSA PARA: Marissa Para, CBS 2 News.

- Health departments don't typically know how much vaccine shipments they get until the week before. We should have a clear sense of what those delays will look like early next week.