Southwest Virginia health districts work to rebuild trust in Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine

Virginia is getting ready to distribute the vaccine after a temporary pause

ROANOKE, Va. – After federal officials lifted a recommended pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, local health departments are working to help the public regain trust in the only one-shot dose available.

Shipments of the J&J vaccine started coming into the Commonwealth on Monday, but there’s still not much word on when it will be available at a local level.

Some say bringing it back could help with hesitancy

“People have become more selective about which vaccine, they want, and many of them want one and done,” Southside Health District Director Dr. Scott Spillmann said.

But the pause has likely had negative impacts on areas already struggling with demand not meeting the current supply.

“We’re experiencing more vaccine, fewer demands,” Spillmann said.

Health districts are also looking at ways to help the public trust the only one-shot dose on the market following the pause.

“There were a very small number of cases that were identified, and with millions of doses being administered,” New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell said.

Despite the pause, the New River Health District has managed to host large-scale vaccination clinics for its college population and the community.

“Having the Johnson &Johnson pause while it was a challenge because now we have two doses instead of one. It didn’t interfere with our efforts to offer the vaccine out there. We continue to have an adequate supply of modern advisors to offer it to our communities,” said Bissell.

Most local health districts are waiting on guidance for when J&J will return but agree that the best vaccine you can get is the one most available to you.

About the Author

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.