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Bad Timing For J&J Problems As Massachusetts Prepares To Expand Vaccine Eligibility

WORCESTER (CBS) - Governor Charlie Baker is unsure how Johnson & Johnson's double dose of problems will impact Massachusetts. First, the company had a manufacturing mix-up, and now there are reports of adverse reactions. "Makes it really hard to create a sustainable program with this," said Governor Baker.

He toured the Family Health Center of Worcester Monday, where COVID-19 tests and vaccinations were underway. The governor touted the state's progress, predicting shots will hit the two million mark in Massachusetts this week. "We've managed to stay pretty close to the timelines and the deadlines that we put in place back in November," he said.

But in the coming days, Johnson & Johnson is lowering its number of shipped doses by about 85% after a contaminated supply from a Baltimore manufacturer had to be tossed. Adding to the uncertainty, several J & J clinics across the country recently shut down because of reported side effects.

"I still feel very comfortable recommending J & J," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health. "The reactions we've seen have been very, very mild. Light-headedness, some people felt nauseated, and that has happened in a tiny, tiny portion of people," he said.

Governor Baker said he's less concerned about that than he is about supply, just as the state's vaccination effort gets a glimpse of the final stretch. "How long people have to wait is going to 100% depend on where we are with supply," Baker said.

He said he has a call scheduled with the federal government Tuesday, and hopes to learn more about what J & J can provide longer term.

Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to book an appointment.

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