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State equity efforts pivot while Johnson and Johnson vaccine on hold

Colorado launched mobile vaccine clinics stocked with the J&J vaccine two weeks ago to bring vaccines to people in rural areas. Now, they've switched over to Pfizer.

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — The Weld County Health Department currently has about 5,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine stored away and ready to go once given the green light, according to Eric Aakko, a spokesperson for the health department.

"We are at a pause, and yes, it will be inconvenient for some people," said Aakko. "However, we still have lots of vaccine available and we are doing lots of vaccination still."

Colorado this week ordered a pause on distributing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine following reports of rare blood clots in at least six women.

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Of the more than 169,000 vaccines administered in Weld County, about 4,000 were single doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

"For people who live out in the rural areas, a one-shot dose is perfect because it’s a little harder, more inconvenient to drive to a larger vaccination site that’s you know a considerable drive for some people," said Aakko. 

Despite the hold on the single-dose shot, Aakko said there are still plenty of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. 

Two weeks ago, the state launched mobile vaccine clinics to bring vaccines to hard-to-reach areas such as Weld County. The buses were stocked with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine so people wouldn't have to come back for a second dose. Two of the mobile clinics this week were canceled. 

Thursday, the buses made their way to Keenesburg and Wellington to administer doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

"So far, the mobile vaccine clinics have been a huge success," said Deb Suniga, a deputy director for a number of vaccine equity clinics in Colorado who also helps with outreach efforts by sharing dates and times of the mobile vaccine units. 

Suniga said their equity efforts will continue to focus on ensuring access to the vaccine doesn't become an issue as they await more guidance surrounding the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

One of the mobile units is scheduled to arrive in Eaton on Friday. There are no other scheduled dates beyond that, but you can access the schedule and sign up for the waitlist here.

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