coronavirus

CVS, Walgreens, Grocers Halt Johnson & Johnson Vaccines, Scramble to Reschedule Appointments

Erin Clark | Boston Globe | Getty Images
  • CVS Health, Walgreens and Wegmans have stopped Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines and are now figuring out how to handle customers' scheduled appointments.
  • The Food and Drug Administration asked states to temporarily halt distribution of the J&J vaccines on Tuesday morning after six women in the U.S. developed a rare blood-clotting disorder.
  • Drugstores and grocers are playing a crucial role in the administration of Covid vaccines from various suppliers.

Drugstores and grocers have played a crucial role in administering Covid-19 vaccines to Americans. Now, they are trying to figure out a path forward after the Food and Drug Administration asked states Tuesday morning to temporarily halt distribution of Johnson & Johnson shots.

CVS Health spokesman Mike DeAngelis said customers scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine this week will get an email to notify them that it is canceled. He said the company will follow up with those customers to reschedule, as it continues to offer shots developed by other manufacturers.

Walgreens said in a statement that it has paused J&J vaccines at its stores and offsite clinics, too. It said it would reach out to people with appointments and reschedule them with another shot, as supply allows.

Rite Aid said in a statement that it has cancelled J&J vaccines scheduled at its stores on Tuesday and Wednesday. Customers will be notified about how to reschedule their appointment for another Covid vaccine, the company said.

Wegmans also said it has canceled all J&J vaccine appointments in a statement on its website.

Retailers began sharing their responses on Tuesday, after the FDA's request. The federal agency said it made the move "out of an abundance of caution" after six women in the U.S. developed a rare blood-clotting disorder. Nearly 7 million Americans have received the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

J&J's vaccine has not been as widely administered as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines in the U.S. However, the shots have unique benefits. They can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for months and take only one shot — unlike Pfizer's and Moderna's, which require freezers and two rounds of shots spaced about a month apart. That has made J&J's vaccine an appealing option, particularly for harder-to-reach populations, such as Americans who are homebound, live in poorer communities, rural areas or tribal lands.

It is unclear how much of drugstores' and grocery stores' vaccine supply is from J&J versus other manufacturers — and what portion of their vaccine appointments the FDA request could disrupt.

CVS is offering Covid vaccines in about 2,000 stores across 49 states. DeAngelis declined to say how many of those stores use the J&J vaccine and how many administer the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Some states, including New York, have announced they will use Pfizer's two-shot vaccine in J&J's place for already scheduled appointments.

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