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Alabama still waiting to use Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine


Alabama healthcare providers still can’t use the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a hold on all J & J shots because of blood clots linked to six cases. The delay is a concern in Alabama since the one shot vaccine was hoped to give patients in rural areas a better chance to get inoculated.

Dr. Richard Friend is the Dean of the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences. He said the pause may shake public confidence in the J & J vaccine.

“I think there will be some patients that won’t want it, and, want the Pfizer and Moderna,” Friend said. “The good news is we have a really good supply of Pfizer in the State, and a good supply of Moderna. So, I think those options will still be available.”

The fatalities were among women aged 18 to 48 years old. Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the number of people taking a “wait and see” attitude on getting a COVID-19 shot remains pretty constant at 7% to 13%. Friend said public opinion will be the final judge on how the Johnson & Johnson product is received once the CDC hold is lifted.

“If the patients are confident, and feel the CDC and the FDA have done a good job in investigating the risk, then I think patients will be able to get the J & J,” Friend said.

Overall, close to 30 percent of Alabamians have received at least one shot of COVID vaccine. That puts the state about one percentage point ahead of Mississippi, but behind Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported six people had died as a result of blood clots from the J&J vaccine. There have been six cases of blood clots and only one fatality. This story has been updated to fix the error.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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