Virginia on track to repeal outdoor mask recommendations with return of Johnson & Johnson vaccine


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula announced on Friday that Virginia will immediately resume the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration met today and ended their pause on use of vaccine.

The vaccine was cleared for use by all adults.

VDH says they encourage people to be aware of possible side effects and “to weigh that against the possibility of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.”

The vaccine was initially put on hold after a small handful of people who got the shot experienced blood clots. Three of these cases turned deadly, one of which was in Virginia.

Overall Avula says it was “about 15 cases out of almost 8,000,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson administered.”

Virginia Department of Health is still working towards herd immunity but as vaccine supply increases they are seeing a drop in demand. In order to help reach more people, VDH is mobilizing vans to rural areas and public housing communities.

“The benefit of a one dose vaccine really does make a lot of sense there,” Avula said.

With Johnson & Johnson bringing a boost back to the vaccine supply, Avula plans for the rolling back of some social recommendations in the coming weeks. One social recommendation Avula sees coming to an end soon is outdoor mask requirements.

“They may still recommend wearing masks when you are in public settings or when you are in close proximity to people,” Avula said. “But, when you are out going on a run or riding a bike, and not spending extended periods of time around another individual, there’s no need to wear a mask in that setting.”

Another crucial step for Virginia to reach herd immunity is getting children vaccinated. As of right now, there are no COVID-19 vaccines approved for use on children but Avula hopes one will be by early next year. Children will most likely begin getting vaccinated around the same time that some people will be getting their COVID vaccine booster shot.

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