Vaccine Distribution Faces Multiple Obstacles

Despite hurdles, campus set to open in the fall

As of May 4, over 2.6 million people in Colorado have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Illustration: April Kinney • The Sentry

Nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization, three vital vaccines emerged, offering a chance for the world to get back to normal. These vaccines, produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, have now reached widespread use, allowing the general population to access them. However, the US is still grappling with vaccine distribution, which has now been further complicated by the recent Johnson & Johnson pause.  

On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to blood clots found in six women. More than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine had been distributed, so these clots have been incredibly rare. While blood clots are a common side effect among many medications and procedures, the clots connected to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine require different treatment than most, and in fact make common treatments dangerous. On April 19, one woman in Michigan died as a result of complications related to blood clots caused by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Despite the pause, one survey from Dynata indicates that almost 20% of Americans still prefer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Because it requires only one dose, the vaccine takes less time to reach full efficacy. This may prove useful for marginalized groups who can’t afford to take a second day off of work for the second shot, or for transient communities. 

According to past emails from the Health Center at Auraria, current and past vaccine clinics at the site have used Moderna and Pfizer. Colorado, along with the rest of the US, resumed use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 23. The state only administered around 120,000 of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the time of the pause. 

One concern with the current pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it will increase vaccine hesitancy. As of May 4, approximately 44% of the United States has received one dose of the vaccine, well below the desired 60-70% cited early on by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the president’s medical advisor. According to the New York Times, some areas of the US are seeing decreasing rates of vaccination, with hesitancy over side effects and safety being one cause. 

Despite the hurdles of vaccine distribution, CU Denver is planning for the fall 2021 semester to be mostly on campus, in part due to the recent announcement on April 28 that vaccines will be required for most campus community members. The announcement, given on behalf of chancellors from all campuses and CU President Mark Kennedy, sparked controversy among some community members. According to communications from the university, this requirement will “further the goal of having an on-campus experience that is critical to academic success and personal growth.” For students working entirely remotely, vaccines are not required. 

As the US moves into a new phase of vaccine distribution, President Biden, alongside local leaders like Governor Polis, continues to encourage citizens to get vaccinated.

This is a selection from the May 5 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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