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Sumter pharmacy cancels appointments after J&J vaccine "paused"

After being one of the last to receive the vaccine, rural, independent pharmacies were once again without shots to give, after Johnson & Johnson halt.

SUMTER, S.C. — Independent pharmacies across South Carolina are having to cancel appointments for patients wanting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. 

The FDA issued a recommendation for 'pausing' the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of rare blood clots.

For Diana, who works at Sumter’s Cut Rate Drug store, Tuesday was a day of making calls.

“This is in reference to your appointment, April 20th, which is Tuesday,” Diana said over the phone. “At this time, I will have to cancel that appointment.”

After being one of the last to receive the vaccine, the rural, independent pharmacy was once again without shots to give.

RELATED: US recommends 'pause' for J&J COVID vaccine after 6 blood clot reports

“I was made aware this morning,” Dr. John Holladay, the lead pharmacist, said. “I not only got emails, but I got a personal call from DHEC, and they said to sequester all doses, to cancel all existing appointments, to cancel all clinics, do not schedule any future clinics until otherwise notified.”

The shift leaving hundreds of doses, once assigned, now left to sit, and some patients wondering why.

Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Empty waiting area at Sumter Cut Rate Drugs, after J&J vaccine halted.

“…but we have no further answers other than what we’ve learned today,” Holladay said. “We had tons of clinics planned and appointments and now with the cancellation notices it does take a little wind out of your sail, but… if something like this comes up it does need to be investigated. Give some due process to it and let’s check it out.”

RELATED: What to watch for if you got Johnson & Johnson COVID shot

Dr. Holladay said the unused doses will remain stored away for now, until they’re given the green light again.

“As soon as we get some more information, I will give you a call back,” Diana said over the phone. “Thank you very much. Bye, bye.”

Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations are still available. To find a vaccine location near you visit DHEC online.