Rural communities impacted by pause on Johnson and Johnson vaccines

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) -The pause on Johnson and Johnson vaccines is making distribution in some rural areas more difficult.

For rural communities across the state, these one-dose vaccines were not only convenient, they were an incentive to actually get the shot.

“I probably could have had another hundred if I’d had them or could have gotten them,” said Pharmacist Robert Curtis at County Discount Pharmacy in Magazine.

Curtis said his pharmacy was given a hundred doses of Johnson and Johnson after its school district requested single-dose shots from the state.

“That was a selling point that it was a one shot deal,” said Communications Director for Community Health Centers, Seth Blomeley.

CHC distributed Johnson and Johnson shots to clinics across the state to meet vaccine needs in rural areas.

“Part of our mission was to reach the hard to reach population- people who it might be hard for them to come back get the second shot,” Blomeley said.

State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said the solution for the state is administering Pfizer and Moderna shots instead- both of those being two doses.

“It’s not quite as convenient because people need to come back for the second dose,” she said.

The pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccines creates not only an inconvenience for some…

It adds a fear factor.”

-DR. JENNIFER DILLAHA, STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST

Dr. Dillaha said this fear factor causes the state to worry vaccine hesitancy- specifically in rural areas- is only growing.

“Whenever the fear increases, it makes it hard for people to make a balanced decision between the risks and the benefit,” Dr. Dillaha said.

“We’ve only gotten about 40% vaccinated,” Curtis said. “They don’t want it.”

Curtis said he also fears vaccine hesitancy in his community- something he has already seen for months now.

“Maybe it’s not part of being rural part of Arkansas, but I really kind of think it is.”

All of these health officials encourage you to still trust the vaccines- Johnson and Johnson included- and to not let this hold keep you from getting your shot.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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