Pennsylvania Pauses Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The pause on the use of the J&J vaccine is impacting local clinics. One of the largest single dose events in the Pittsburgh area was supposed to happen with UPMC on Wednesday, but those plans are changing; KDKA's Nicole Ford reports.

Video Transcript

- In Pennsylvania, the Department of Health is holding off on administering the vaccines until at least April 20. So what does this mean for local clinics that planned on using the J&J version? Nicole Ford is live at Pittsburgh Mills Mall, a site UPMC plans on using for a vaccine clinic tomorrow. So Nicole, what do folks need to know right now?

NICOLE FORD: Well, Kym, UPMC, first, is following that national directive in pausing the use of the J&J vaccine, but they didn't want to cancel their clinics. In fact, last minute preps are underway right here at Pittsburgh Mills Mall, where they're expected to vaccinate nearly 12,000 people starting tomorrow.

You can see one of these tents. That's where there's 35 of these stations where people will show up to get that different vaccine tomorrow, before they head off to the observation area. It's the final countdown.

DIANE HUPP: --are not canceling any clinics. Our commitment is to, as we receive the vaccine, be able to put it in arms as quickly and safely as we can.

NICOLE FORD: With thousands of J&J vaccine appointments already scheduled out over the next two days, it was a mass scramble when news broke that the FDA was putting a pause on the distribution.

BLAKE CAMPBELL: At this point, I don't really know. So I might try and schedule another appointment for me and my wife.

NICOLE FORD: Blake Campbell is set to get his shot at Pittsburgh Mills Mall on Wednesday morning. He was hopeful to get that single shot.

BLAKE CAMPBELL: I still would have been OK with it. Looking at it, it's such a small number of people that have experienced it. I would have been fine with it.

NICOLE FORD: While UPMC is following that directive in putting a pause on the J&J, the health system will instead be distributing the Pfizer vaccine to Campbell and the thousands of others who scheduled at the mall clinic.

DIANE HUPP: I think there will be some individuals that may have hesitancy about getting the vaccine, however, knowing that, we will not be administering J&J. It will be Pfizer. And with Pfizer, the efficacy of Pfizer and the safety of Pfizer has been known.

NICOLE FORD: While some people have chosen to cancel their appointment, UPMC encourages them to go back to the website, to rebook with a different dose. So how did UPMC get its hands on all of these extra Pfizer doses? Wild Hope tells me that, actually, a lot of their clinics haven't been filling up, so they were able to pull some Pfizer doses from each of those clinics within the UPMC system in order to fill up this clinic tomorrow.

Now, there are still available appointments. She says they've only filled out about 8,000 people. They're expecting, or hoping at least, to do about 12,000. Reporting live at Pittsburgh Mills Mall, Nicole Ford, KDKA News.