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Chicago Neighborhood Pharmacies Pivot After The Pause On Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Many small pharmacies waited for months to get COVID-19 vaccines, only to get shots that are now on pause.

This after the CDC's halt on the Johnson & Johnson COVID shot, some independent pharmacies are now scrambling for a solution.

CBS 2's Steven Graves is talking to pharmacists who are making changes.

Most of these local, trusted pharmacies CBS 2 spoke to are part of the federal vaccine program. They were only recently given the Johnson & Johnson shot, which lasted for a short time.

"We received Johnson & Johnson about two weeks ago. It was obviously extremely exciting," said pharmacy manager Ola Issa.

That initial excitement was short lived. Local Health in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood went from a scramble scheduling 90 appointments a day to canceling them.

"We canceled a little over 200," she added.

They came when the CDC put a halt on the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. Health leaders wanting to do more research on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after rare blood clots formed in six women out of millions of people across the country who got the doses.

Which means the shot is filed under the "do not use" category at Local Health. Thankfully, they just got a federal shipment of the two-shot Moderna days ago, with new appointments Friday.

"Honestly, we were okay with getting any vaccine we received," said pharmacy manager Ola Issa.

This turnaround is way faster than the initial wait to even get the vaccine. Mom and pop pharmacies had to apply and wait months in some cases over big chains.

Ones like a pharmacy on the city's southwest side are trusted and have familiar faces for patients, which can reach more people. Now, a week into the J & J shot, they're forced to cancel and wait more.

Some people opted not to get the shot at all.

"Because some people do have that preference."

Local Health came across the same issue. But Daniel Shansky, who signed up for Johnson & Johnson shot said he is willing to switch.

"The efficacy seemed better for the Moderna and Pfizer, so some of my family were saying try to get those if you can," Shansky said.

And now, this pharmacy is waiting to hear updates from the CDC. The pharmacy's refrigerated Johnson & Johnson shots will expire in mid-June.

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