PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Despite orders by the CDC and FDA to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of rare blood clot issues, it's likely doses of the vaccine won't go to waste.
Metier Pharmacy has been administering both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. While they can't administer the J&J vaccines for now, the doses likely won't go to waste, although it could depend on how long the moratorium lasts. Pharmacist Randle House says his vials don't expire until late June. The state gave specific instructions Tuesday for administrators to put the vials back in the fridge – separated from vaccines – with a "Do not use" label.
"I've been in this over 20 years and I haven't seen anything like this," House said. Despite the pause, Metier Pharmacy still got lots of phone calls from patients who were hoping to get scheduled for the Johnson & Johnson shot on the very day the vaccine was paused.
"We alerted them to the news of what's going on in case they haven't seen the news, but there wasn't a lot of hesitation. They still wanted to get on our waiting list," House said.
Pleasant Pediatrics has six locations in the Valley and has 2,000 vaccine appointments it can't fill.
The pause might be especially aggravating news for people who already had an appointment to get the J&J vaccine and now have to find another open spot for either a Pfizer or a Moderna shot.
Meanwhile, Pleasant Pediatrics, which has six locations in the Valley, is having trouble filling up appointment slots. They received 6,000 Moderna doses last week but only administered 4,000 of them.
"Right now, open on our website, we have a thousand appointments that are open, just waiting for people to fill them," office manager Becky Wolf said. She's hoping the pause on J&J will get more patients will take advantage of their surplus. "We also wonder – have they given up? Because they've had such a hard time getting it scheduled or finding appointments that they're just not looking anymore?" she said.
Despite the clinic name, Pleasant Pediatrics does not just vaccinate minors; patients of any eligible age can sign up for an appointment. As for House, he isn’t worried about the pause putting a damper on vaccination rates.
“I think that they’re doing this with caution and they’re going to review some things and they’re going to come back and I believe they’ll rerelease it back to the public,” he said. “I feel very confident in it.”