WASHINGTON — For months, news coverage has highlighted the difficulty of those eligible for vaccination actually scoring a coveted appointment.
That's why, when news broke of the CDC and FDA's recommendation to pause the administration of the Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen vaccine, it caused not just confusion, but also frustration.
So let's Verify, if you have a Johnson & Johnson vaccine already scheduled, should you cancel the appointment and try to sign up for another one?
Don't cancel your appointment without checking what your specific vaccine provider is doing.
Federal officials say they are working to help make sure those with a J&J appointment will now receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Those officials include leaders from the CDC and the White House's COVID-19 Response Team.
“Our partners are, will be working to reschedule people who have the J&J vaccine appointments in the days ahead," Dr. Anne Schuschat, principal deputy director of the CDC said Tuesday, "This may be a bit bumpy. We want to make sure that we're getting the word out to the public and to our providers, but we do want to make sure that people who are scheduled to have vaccination and will be able to get that when vaccines available.”
That message was echoed by Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, during a press briefing on Wednesday.
"We are working now with our state and federal partners to get anyone currently scheduled for a J&J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine," Zients said. "We're seeing this take place across the country.”
According to WUSA9 reporting, all three say that those who already have an appointment for the J&J vaccine will be contacted to reschedule.
"In Virginia, we will cease all Johnson & Johnson vaccines until this investigation is complete," Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia's state vaccination coordinator said Tuesday. "If you have an upcoming appointment for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will be contacted to reschedule that appointment. "
DC Department of Health followed suit, saying those who pre-registered through their online vaccine portal for a J&J will receive a notice of the cancellation and also be given the chance to schedule a new appointment for Pfizer or Moderna.
A Maryland Department of Health spokesperson told WUSA9 Tuesday that no vaccine appointments had been canceled as a result of the Johnson & Johnson pause.
"Should any future appointments be affected, the Maryland Department of Health or its partners will notify affected individuals directly," the spokesperson said.
What about Walgreens and CVS?.
As for private providers, places like Walgreens and CVS are doing the same.
CVS told WUSA9 that they would reschedule affected patients "to the fullest extent possible".
Walgreens issued a similar statement, saying that they would be reaching out to patients who already had a vaccine appointment and try to reschedule.
But both CVS and Walgreens said they were also cognizant of limitations like canceled clinics and low supply, recommending that patients keep their options open.
"Unfortunately, there are some canceled clinics where there are no alternative locations within driving distance. In those circumstances, we are encouraging patients to seek other vaccination providers," a CVS spokesperson told WUSA9.
"We are reaching out to patients with scheduled appointments and rescheduling vaccinations from other manufacturers, as supply allows," Walgreens said in a statement.
Bottom line: if you’re unsure, reach out to your vaccine provider.
So we can Verify, based on what we know so far, don’t cancel that precious appointment just yet, hold on to your spot.