Governor says J&J vaccine pause won’t have significant impact; homeless vaccinations to continue

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Vials of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen coronavirus disease vaccine are seen in an undated photograph. (J&J photo)

Distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is still on pause.

So how does that affect vaccination efforts on Guam?

The governor of Guam called for a pause on the distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine Wednesday in response to guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Defense and the CNMI have followed the guidance as well.

Although the island still has an abundance of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, some vaccination programs had intended to use the Johnson and Johnson vaccine exclusively.

One of those was the program implemented by the Guam Homeless Coalition in partnership with Guam Public Health.

The program had meant to take advantage of the fact that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine only uses one dose.

That makes it ideal for a population like the homeless who tend to be more difficult to track and contact and who tend to lack access to transportation — all of which makes administering a second dose more difficult.

But difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

And Samantha Taitano, of the Guam Homeless Coalition, told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that they’ll be soldiering on with Friday’s vaccination clinic at Ypao Beach Park in Tumon.

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“We decided that tomorrow we will still be going through with the event, but we are going to be offering one of the other vaccines. And so today, thanks to some of our great outreach teams, Catholic Social Services, has a wonderful outreach team, along with Guma Mami, will be going around passing out new flyers about the event letting them know that it will not be the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and also passing out information about the vaccine so that they’re aware of what they’re going to be receiving if they opt into it,” Taitano said.

As for the rest of the island, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero told Patti Arroyo that although the goal of vaccinating 50% of the island would’ve been much easier with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, things remain on track.

“We are still on our aggressive campaign. We are actually working to see if the number of Johnson and Johnson that they are giving to us can be replaced by more Moderna and more Pfizer. Art is going to be having some phone calls today to propose that, and…I don’t think it has a significant impact. Because most of our vaccinations were planned around Pfizer and Moderna. The Johnson and Johnson would’ve been an added boost to our campaign, but we’re still targeted to meet the May 1st deadline,” the governor said.