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Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause Throws Wrench In New Jersey Communities' Efforts To Inoculate Most Vulnerable

STRATFORD, N.J. (CBS) -- The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause is forcing communities to tweak their efforts to vaccinate vulnerable residents.

"We had 325 migrant workers waiting for us, and we, unfortunately, had to turn them away," Dr. Richard Jermyn with Rowan Medicine said.

The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is putting a wrench in getting the most vulnerable population inoculated. The J&J vaccine was being administered to the homeless, homebound, those struggling with drug addiction, domestic violence survivors and migrant workers.

"When we're dealing with communities that have had so many people turn their backs on them, building trust is huge," Jermyn said.

Jermyn says Rowan Medicine has a vaccine center on campus, but his initiative is to bring the vaccine to patients who most likely would not go to large vaccination centers.

"We don't have ways to communicate with our patients, they don't have cellphones, they don't have you know smart phones," Jermyn said. "Most of them don't have addresses. So, it's really, here's a card, please come back."

With the pause on the J&J vaccine, the Department of Health was able to provide Jermyn with Moderna vaccines, something many other organizations had to do in the Garden State, like Trenton's Health and Human Services.

"Because we have so many vaccines, we're going to do a combination of our homebound initiative," Trenton Health and Human Services Director Dr. Adela Ames-Lopez said, "but also utilize some of those for our pop-up sites."

Many preferred the J&J vaccine because it was only one shot, but health officials are hopeful New Jersey residents are receptive to receiving the Moderna vaccine.

"I look at it as more of a positive spin, because we have 30 days to see the same resident," Ames-Lopez said. "So, I'll be able to see how they were in the initial on the onset and then we come back the second time and be able to see how things are going."

Rowan Medicine says the Department of Health plans to provide them with the Moderna vaccine sometime next week, and they are hoping the most vulnerable population will come back to receive their second vaccine.

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