With the Pentagon’s use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on hold for now amid concerns about a possible link to blood clots, the military plans to send tens of thousands more doses of the Moderna vaccine overseas to take its place.
In a briefing with reporters Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Defense Department’s COVID task force has decided to reallocate 30,000 doses of the two-shot Moderna vaccine to overseas commands next month as part of the military’s effort to inoculate the force and families against the coronavirus.
“We are adjusting fire as appropriate to make sure that we continue to get that vaccine flow overseas,” he said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose and has less strict refrigeration needs, was a key element of the military’s effort to vaccinate troops and family members deployed overseas, particularly in remote locations.
But the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that a small number of people who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — six women out of 6.8 million recipients — had developed “rare and severe” blood clots.
That same day, the Pentagon announced it had immediately halted administering that vaccine, adding that it did not know how long the pause might last.
In the meantime, the military is working on ways to fill the gap caused by losing the J&J vaccine.
Beginning May 10, Kirby said, the DoD will send about 10,000 Moderna doses abroad each week to locations in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific area.
Kirby said the redirected Moderna vaccines will help the military meet its goal of vaccinating 70% of overseas personnel and their families by the end of May.
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