Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Delaware officials are hopeful they'll get the greenlight to resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets Friday to determine whether the "pause" in using the single-shot vaccine will be lifted.

More than two weeks ago, the CDC and the FDA recommended all 50 states stop using the vaccine two weeks ago due to a very small number of blood clots, they said were linked to the vaccine -- just six cases out of nearly seven million doses of the vaccine administered nationwide. None of the cases were in Delaware.

Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said she doesn't believe the pause will create vaccine hesitancy. In fact, she said, it should be quite the opposite.

"Some people have asked me if I was frustrated by this action due to the low number of incidents--it's only six cases--but my response has been this action should really bolster the confidence of the American people in the vaccine safety processes," she said. "That these agencies would take a break from the millions of ongoing vaccinations with J&J to better understand and be transparent about this issue really shows just how seriously they take the safety of these vaccines."

Governor John Carney said the J&J vaccine was seeing high demand prior to the pause.

"Maybe by the end of the week, the CDC will have its analysis done, and we might be ready and back online there, and that will help us out in a big way," he said. "It sounded somewhat optimistic on the call...I don't want to jump the gun, but everybody's hopeful."

But even if the state gets the greenlight Friday, it still won't use the vaccine at any clinics this weekend. 

"There's no reason to rush into it to use it this weekend. We know there's going to be questions, there's going to be concerns people may have. So we want to make sure that the education and literature and anything else that we need to absorb and really filter out to the staff--that we have time to do that in a proactive way, do it the right way," said Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director A.J. Schall.

The state has about 5,000 doses of J&J vaccine in its arsenal. If the pause is lifted, they hope to use the single-shot vaccine at their final weekend of vaccination clinics at Dover International Speedway on May 1, 2021. The state's site at the Speedway will close permanently after that weekend so the Speedway can get ready for the spring NASCAR races May 14-16.

"The advantage of doing it at Dover Downs is you don't have to reschedule the second at another place, 21 or 28 days later, which can be problematic given Dover Downs has a big through-put capacity, and we don't have anything that replicates that. So it would be very advantageous is we can use the Johnson & Johnson there," said Carney.

"We are ready to restart," said Rattay. "Should they recommend lift the pause, people should feel confident about being vaccinated with the J&J vaccine based on the low rate of instances and also based on the fact that medical community has now certainly been made aware of the potential issue and how best to treat it."