Vials of Johnson & Johnson's investigational COVID-19 vaccine

Long-term care pharmacies can begin immediately using Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine again after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration lifted a pause on the shots Friday evening. 

The big question on long-term care leaders’ minds, however, is whether staff will be accepting of the J&J vaccine — or any other vaccines — or will a new hurdle have been put in place.

The return of the J&J vaccine to circulation is a major development for long-term care providers, acknowledged Chad Worz, PharmD, chief executive of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. He noted that J&J’s return represents a chance to get back to getting as many people vaccinated as possible, “but there will now be some new hesitancy to overcome.”

“The decision to pause, although certainly cautionary, may have caused more harm than good,” he told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

“Long term care pharmacies and pharmacists will be reactivated and run back toward the problem, but it will take leadership across disciplines, facilities, states and the nation to educate, convince and get us back on track,” he added. “We need to respond quickly, loudly and effectively to ensure we don’t lose some willing individuals to this blip in confidence.” 

The move by federal health officials came after the CDC’s immunization advisory board late Friday afternoon voted to recommend the resumption of J&J’s coronavirus vaccine 10 days after they paused use of the shots to investigate rare blood clots in some recipients.

The vaccine’s label will be updated to carry a warning about the rare risk of blood clotting risks. In addition, the FDA and the company will create updated communication and education materials in the coming days.

Long-term care pharmacies immediately stopped using the J&J vaccine after the pause was announced last week. Those doses were replaced with Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at LTC pharmacies, according to federal officials.