The FDA and CDC have lifted the pause on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, but many Wisconsin vaccinators are waiting for the green light from DHS

MADISON, Wis. — On Friday, the FDA and CDC halted the pause of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine, telling vaccinators they can resume using the shot.

Nearby states such as Indiana and Michigan have started using the shots again, but Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services hasn’t given the all-clear yet.

Still, a pharmacy in Milwaukee decided to move forward this weekend, but many others are waiting on word from the state.

In their last press release about Johnson & Johnson, DHS said vaccinators “should hold on to the vaccine until federal review has been completed.” Technically, that happened on Friday.

“The language is kind of vague,” said Thad Schumacher at Fitchburg Family Pharmacy. “Maybe that means that we are in a place where we can use it. Usually you hear something from the state. And maybe they left it open like that so they wouldn’t have to come back out and say something.”

Schumacher said Fitchburg Family Pharmacy has more than 1,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine ready to be used. He plans to use some of those doses at a clinic on Saturday.

“In all of our heads, we were thinking we’ll hear something (from DHS) before then,” he said.

There are at least 10,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the state. DHS said 10,200 doses were allocated the week that the pause started, but vaccinators could’ve had even more on hand at that point.

Public Health Madison & Dane County has 1,200 doses ready to be given out.

“There is a little bit of a delay in the sense that we have to wait for the green light from DHS and some educational materials to come in before we’re allowed to restart,” said Tess Ellens, Immunization Coordinator with PHMDC.

She isn’t sure when or what DHS might provide, but said the county wants to have all the information before proceeding with the shots.

“We want to be prepared to answer anybody’s questions about J & J and what that means for them.” said Ellens.

Schumacher is happy to be able to use the shots this weekend. He hopes that more people in the Northport community will come to Saturdays clinic now that he can give out Johnson & Johnson.

“I do know they had people stating they were not going to come to our clinic at the Boys and Girls Club, especially this past Saturday, because we weren’t using Johnson & Johnson,” said Schumacher.