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Baker Sees 'Minimal Impact' From Pause in J&J Vaccine

While its duration is still unknown, the pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines should have "minimal impact" on appointments in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

In his first public appearance since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended halting administration of J&J shots while regulators review six cases of a severe blood clots reported among the 6.8 million recipients, Baker said the single-dose vaccines represent "a small portion of our supply."

This week, J&J shots accounted for about 3% of the state's vaccine allocation, he said, and the rest were the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer options. Any residents who had an appointment for a J&J vaccine already scheduled should reach out to their provider or the vaccination clinic for more information, Baker said.

During the months-long vaccine rollout, Baker has consistently highlighted the critical role that the J&J vaccine plays in accelerating immunizations, citing its single-dose nature and simpler handling requirements.

"The health and safety of our residents remains a paramount and fundamental concern for us, and the commonwealth will closely monitor this issue and follow federal guidance as we continue to move forward with our vaccination program," Baker said. "In the immediate future, we're expecting minimal disruptions to schedule new appointments."

Baker said he expects an update from federal officials "within days to help states manage vaccine distribution."

During a press conference at the Hynes Convention Center's mass vaccination site, Baker and other officials announced that the week of April 19 to April 25 will be "Red Sox Week" at the Hynes in an effort to boost vaccination rates.

About 20,000 slots will be reserved for residents of communities hardest hit by COVID-19, who will be contacted in outreach efforts by groups including the Red Sox Foundation, El Mundo and Health Care for All. (Baker did not name the communities included in this program, but the state's website names these 20 municipalities as part of the state's prioritized communities: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield and Worcester.) The Hynes will feature bilingual signage and "Red Sox-themed attractions" such as trophies and "socially distanced visits with Wally."

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