Murphy confident J&J pause will not slow state’s vaccination goals

J&J vaccine accounts for only 4% of 5.6M doses N.J. has administered so far

A CVS staffer prepares a shot. (CVS Health)

Gov. Phil Murphy said the state’s overall goal of vaccinating 4.7 million adult New Jerseyans by the end of June remains not only in place but also entirely achievable, despite the fact that the federal government put a pause on the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

The reason: Doses of J&J have accounted for only 4% (just under 244,000) of the more than 5.6 million total vaccine doses the state has administered, Murphy said.

The use of the J&J vaccine was put on pause upon the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration pending further investigation into six reported instances of severe blood clots following vaccination.

Murphy said the six cases each appear to be extremely rare, as there have been nearly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered nationwide — and there have been no incidents of clotting in New Jersey.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said federal officials said all six cases were females between the ages of 18-48 with low blood platelet levels. She said the effects were felt six to 13 days after getting the shot. Persichlli said 47,266 women in that age group have received the J&J vaccine in New Jersey.

Persichilli encourage any of those women — or anyone who has received the J&J vaccine — to see medical care should they feel adverse side effects.

Because the number of J&J doses that state has been receiving is so much lower than those of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Persichilli said most of the state’s sites have not had to reschedule appointments because of the pause. However, that is not the case in some areas where the J&J vaccine was given exclusively. In many cases, those were in underserved communities where access to transportation to vaccine sites is limited.

Persichilli said there has been no indication that the state will be getting more doses.

As of Wednesday morning, the state is reporting a total of 2,292,316 fully vaccinated individuals.

“The total number of doses administered of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is just under 5.4 million,” Murphy said. “And the stability in their supply and distribution is why we remain confident of our ability to still meet our June 30 vaccination goals.”