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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy doesn’t expect J&J pause to knock state off vaccine goal

Johnson & Johnson inoculations halted over rare blood clots as supplies drop after manufacturing snafu

By Nikita Biryukov, April 13 2021 1:46 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said he does not expect a pause in the use of vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson to push the state off its goal of vaccinating 4.7 million New Jerseyans by the end of June.

“As we do the math right now, and obviously this is somewhat dependent on where the feds come out on J&J, I’m still very confident we’ll be able to get there,” Murphy said. “We had enough breathing room.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended the United States temporarily stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six individuals reported developing a severe type of blood clot.

The blood clots are extremely rare. Only six cases have been reported out of roughly 7 million inoculation. None have been reported in the Garden State, where health officials have administered about 235,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“No one who has received this vaccine should panic or worry,” Murphy said. “To ensure confidence in our vaccination program and the vaccines themselves, a pause for further investigation is a precautionary and smart step.”

The state is putting its roughly 200,000 unadministered doses of the vaccine into storage as it awaits further guidance from federal health officials.

The stoppage comes as federal and state officials warn of a sharp downturn in the supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following manufacturing errors at a Baltimore facility that forced the firm to toss about 15 million doses.

Health officials in the state, Murphy said, are moving to reschedule appointments to administer to Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Folks are trying to repivot as we speak to the Pfizer, Moderna supplies,” Murphy said. “My guess is it’ll be a hiccup of some number of days, but we’ve had these in the past for different reasons. And we’ve been able to — we had storms, remember that? We had the snowstorms that sort of set us to the side, and we’ve been able to recover, and I’m confident we’ll continue to be.”

The governor indicated the future of the New Brunswick-based pharmaceutical firm’s vaccine will depend largely on federal authorities.

“I’m not a medical expert, so I’m again going to defer to the feds. They’re dealing with this very expeditiously,” Murphy said. “Again, I believe they’re meeting literally tomorrow, so I think we should defer to them and we’ll take the guidance from them, and I know Judy and her team will take that guidance and promulgate it around New Jersey.”

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