Drug stores and grocery stores have played a vital role in delivering Covid-19 vaccines to Americans. Now they are trying to find a way forward after the Food and Drug Administration asked states Tuesday morning to temporarily stop the distribution of Johnson & Johnson recordings.
CVS Health spokesman Mike DeAngelis said customers scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine this week will receive an email informing them that the vaccine will be canceled. He said the company will contact these customers to reschedule as it continues to offer recordings developed by other manufacturers.
Walgreens said in a statement that it has also paused J&J vaccines in its stores and offsite clinics. It said it would reach out to people with appointments and postpone them with another shot if supplies allowed.
The FDA advises states to suspend use of the J&J Covid vaccine after 6 women develop rare blood clotting problems and 1 are killed
Rite Aid said in a statement that it canceled J&J vaccines scheduled in its stores on Tuesday and Wednesday. Customers will be informed how to reschedule their appointment for another Covid vaccine, the company said.
Wegmans also said it canceled all J&J vaccine appointments in a statement on its website.
Retailers began sharing their responses on Tuesday at the request of the FDA. The federal agency said it took the step "out of caution" after six women in the US developed a rare bleeding disorder. Nearly 7 million Americans have received the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
J & J's vaccine was not given as frequently in the US as Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. However, the vaccinations have unique advantages. They can be stored at refrigerator temperature for months and only take one shot – unlike Pfizer and Moderna, which require freezers and two rounds of shots about a month apart. This has made J & J's vaccine an attractive option, especially for hard-to-reach populations like Americans who live in poorer communities, rural areas, or tribal areas.
It's unclear how much of the drugstore and grocery store vaccine supply comes from J&J compared to other manufacturers – and what part of their vaccine appointments could disrupt the FDA request.
CVS offers Covid vaccines in approximately 2,000 stores in 49 states. DeAngelis declined to say how many of these stores are using the J&J vaccine and how many are giving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Some states, including New York, have announced plans to use Pfizer's two-shot vaccine at J&J for appointments that have already been made.