Maine is getting coronavirus vaccines from providers to keep a mobile site supplied after the federal government recommended pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Tuesday, causing locations to either cancel appointments or switch vaccines.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended a halt on the one-shot vaccine after six women among the millions to receive a shot developed an extremely rare blood clot in the days after their vaccinations. Maine and other states quickly followed suit early Tuesday morning.
Maine’s mobile coronavirus vaccination clinic, which opened Monday in Oxford, canceled Johnson & Johnson appointments on Tuesday until 12:45 p.m. but was able to continue clinics later Tuesday and Wednesday after redirecting 550 spare doses from Augusta-based MaineGeneral Health.
The state is looking to other clinics for spare to maintain appointments for the rest of the week, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said. Over 1,600 appointments were scheduled at the site. He said the state wants to minimize the number of cancellations due to the pause.
“I can’t promise that will always be the case, but that’s how we’re thinking about it from the first stage,” he said.
Hannaford, which has 35 locations offering vaccines in Maine, had to stop vaccinations at stores on Tuesday after the federal move. Walmart and Walgreens, who also get their vaccines from the federal government, said they also suspended the use of the one-shot vaccine and would be rescheduling appointments if other vaccines were available spokespeople said.
The Old Orchard Beach fire department, which got 500 vaccines last week, also had to cancel a Wednesday clinic and is hoping to reschedule those people on April 21.
Penobscot Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center that primarily serves low-income patients, was planning to offer Moderna vaccines to those who had appointments this week. Spokesperson Kate Carlisle said it was not clear if the clinic’s supply of Moderna would be enough to not have to cancel appointments.
The Maine Department of Corrections, which was using the one-shot option to vaccinate people who are incarcerated in its system, had not administered any vaccines this week and was also pausing efforts, a spokesperson said.
It is not clear how the pause will affect the state’s clinic going forward as it travels through the state over the next two months. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Tuesday that the state is still working on how to ensure those who get Moderna doses through the mobile clinic will get second shots. Those whose mobile clinic appointments were canceled are advised to reschedule them by calling the state’s community vaccination hotline.
There is currently no expected order of Johnson & Johnson vaccines for next week, Shah said. The state is advising clinics that have doses on hand to store them until the federal government completes an investigation of the blood clots, which is expected to take a few days.