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County health departments planning to start using Johnson and Johnson vaccine again

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MADISON (WKOW) -- For two weeks, health departments across the country have had doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine sitting on shelves, waiting to be used. Now, local health officials say they're ready to have a third vaccine option back on the table.

"I think it's absolutely great," Samroz Jakvani, an epidemiologist and the COVID-19 public information officer for the Jefferson County Health Department, said. "We have a number of individuals who, before the pause, had indicated that they preferred only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They're still waiting to get their Johnson & Johnson. So, we hope to administer that next week."

Jakvani said the department has around 200 doses ready to go. He said they're left over from the week federal and state health officials recommended pausing use of the shot because of reports of the rare side effect of blot clots.

He told 27 News the Jefferson County Health Department is planning a walk-in clinic on May 8, where people will have the option between the Moderna shot and the Johnson & Johnson shot. He said the Pfizer shot might also be available.

"We're really sort of offering folks a choice," he said. "Whatever we can do to get folks vaccinated to help them feel comfortable and getting their vaccine, we're willing to do that."

Jefferson County isn't the only county now offering people a choice in which vaccine they get.

Jeff Kindrai, the Grant County Health Department health officer, said in a statement, "We are just offering J&J as an option, particularly for those that want it, have an allergy to the components of Pfizer or Moderna, have a fear of needles and prefer 1 shot, would like immunity a bit quicker, or have transportation or housing issues."

He said the department has around 350 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hand from before the pause.

Jakvani said being able to use the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine again will be extremely beneficial to the effort to get more people vaccinated.

"There's sort of a number of uses for it, given that it can be transported effectively, without too many restrictions, and it can be refrigerated for a long period of time," he said.

He said the single shot is helpful in vaccinating people experiencing homelessness and students who are about to leave for summer break.

Sauk County health officials say they're hoping to capitalize on that versatility.

"Prior to the pause, our plan was to use J & J in populations that would make getting a second vaccine difficult (i.e. transitional housing)," Sauk County Health Department Director Treemanisha Stewart told 27 News in an email. "We are now considering how else we can use this vaccine to ensure we get people vaccinated; having a one-dose vaccine is an advantage that I think people will appreciate."

Health officials from Green County told 27 News they are planning to start administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine later this week.

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Caroline Dade

Reporter/Multimedia Journalist, 27 News

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