A nurse will give a syringe to the FEMA-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia State College on the first day the site resumes offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Paul Hennessy | LightRakete | Getty Images
CVS Health has discontinued Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine in its pharmacies and only makes vaccinations available in about 10% of its retail locations, the company told CNBC on Wednesday.
The drugstore chain said it made the change in the past few weeks. Customers can still get the syringes at nearly 1,000 MinuteClinic locations in 25 states, and Washington DC MinuteClinics are located in some of the company’s drug stores and provide medical care and other services such as diagnostic tests and vaccines.
CVS pharmacies will continue to offer the two-dose vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid nationwide, according to CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis. He declined to say how many pharmacies were affected by the change, however said it would help with vaccine supply to the drugstore chain.
CVS has more than 9,900 retail locations according to its 2020 annual report.
J&J did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment on the change.
J & J’s vaccine was touted as a blessing by federal health officials when it was approved by the FDA in late February because it only requires one dose and can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for months. Since then, it has suffered from poor public perception of its overall effectiveness, concerns about rare side effects, and production delays.
For some Americans, concerns about the one-shot vaccine have increased with the advent of the Delta variant, which can spread more easily and cause more serious illness than the original coronavirus. Some people have even gone so far as to look for an extra dose not yet recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week, San Francisco health officials announced they would allow patients who received a J&J vaccine to have a second vaccination from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
The change by CVS will affect the availability of the recordings for many Americans. J & J’s vaccine is already not getting as much uptake in the US as mRNA vaccines.
According to the CDC, approximately 13.5 million doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered in the US by Tuesday. This compares to a combined total of 333.6 million doses for the vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna.
Dr. Paul Offit, who served on advisory boards for both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, said J & J’s vaccine really “suffered” after federal health officials urged states in April to suspend vaccination “as a precaution.” “While examining six women who developed a rare but severe bleeding disorder, said
The recommended break was lifted 10 days later after U.S. officials determined that the benefits of the vaccinations outweigh their risks.
“I think the public is hearing that the vaccine is going off the market for a while and it’s just hard to get past that scarlet letter,” said Offit, also director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The company and U.S. health officials have claimed the single-use vaccine is safe and highly effective, particularly against serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. J&J reported last month that new research found that its vaccine was effective against the highly contagious Delta even eight months after being vaccinated.
– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.