CT Residents Come Out to Get Vaccinated at FEMA Mobile Clinic in Meriden

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Connecticut’s health department is advising vaccine providers to begin offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine again. This comes just a day after the CDC and FDA lifted the pause on the one-dose vaccine.

At a FEMA mobile vaccination clinic in Meriden on Saturday, they handed out Pfizer vaccines. The mobile clinics were originally set to have Johnson & Johnson, but with the pause earlier this month, they had switched to Pfizer.

“It was fine, fine. Easy, quick and done,” said Rob Amantea, a Meriden resident.

Amantea said he didn’t have any concerns about getting vaccinated at Saturday’s FEMA mobile clinic in Meriden, but wanted to have it done on a weekend. While he wanted Pfizer, he said it didn’t have anything to do with the previous Johnson & Johnson pause. A few weeks later, he’ll be back to get his second dose.

“I definitely wanted to get it. I have underlying conditions, so I wanted to make sure, just be safe, get vaccinated,” said Amantea.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) released a statement on Saturday advising providers to start offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying in part, “The CDC has determined that the known and potential benefits of the J&J vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks. That can be clearly seen here in Connecticut where our case and hospitalization rates and COVID deaths are declining as our vaccinations increase.”

A CDC advisory committee voted to lift the pause this week but did advise adding a warning about the increased risk of very rare but severe blood clots. The federal agency initially paused the use of the one-dose vaccine after six reported cases out of more than 6.8 million administered doses. The CDC said it found a total of 15 cases, all in women under the age of 60.

“If I was not vaccinated yet and J&J was out there, I would go for it,” said Dr. Adam Perrin with UConn Health.

Dr. Perrin, who was volunteering at the FEMA clinic in Meriden said the news from the CDC and FDA should give people confidence. He said he didn’t hear any questions or concerns about it at the clinic and he did notice a lot more teenagers coming out to get their first dose.

“Makes us very hopeful in terms of getting more kids out that aren’t afraid to get this important vaccine done. Hopefully they’re talking to their friends and family,” said Dr. Perrin.

With only about half of the available doses used on Saturday, St. Francis Hospital Director of Finance and Operations Biancha Mathieu said they’re trying to use all forms of communication to reach out and get people vaccinated.

“We work with the city for this site as well as the other ones we’ve been at. It’s been a lot of outreach, social media, outreach on all different platforms,” said Mathieu.

The FEMA mobile vaccination clinic will be back at 31 Orange Street in Meriden on Sunday, April 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

After the CDC and FDA announced on Friday that the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be lifted, CDC director Rochelle Walensky vouched for its safety and efficacy despite extremely rare serious side effects. “The [Johnson & Johnson vaccine] is an important vaccine offering key advantages, including its single-dose option and its viability when the supply chain may not allow for freezers.”
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