Many students have found their vaccination appointments canceled after Vermont paused the administering of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines through April 23. The decision follows a CDC and FDA recommendation to halt use of the vaccine until a rare blood clotting condition — found in six out of 6.8 million vaccine recipients — is investigated. Although Gov. Phil Scott has declared that students are not currently eligible unless they are permanent residents of Vermont or plan to remain in the state this summer, many who have accessed appointments to receive the J&J vaccine have struggled to reschedule them.
Scott tweeted on Tuesday that Vermonters who had made J&J vaccine appointments for April 13 would be contacted about rescheduling. Those affected were instructed to contact the Vermont Department of Health vaccine call center to get an appointment before the end of the month, according to a tweet from the department.
Kasey Mazzone ’23 received an email from the Department of Health on April 13 stating that her J&J appointment at Middlebury American Legion — which had originally been scheduled for that afternoon — was canceled.
“Your Appointment below has been cancelled. If this was done in error, please visit our website to reschedule,” the email said.
Charlie Caldwell ’22 also had an appointment for the J&J vaccine on April 13 at American Legion that was canceled. He received two emails from the Department of Health at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. One mistakenly notified him that a testing appointment had been canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances,” while the other was identical to the email that Mazzone received.
Mazzone later received a call from the department and eventually made an appointment in Middlebury for April 26, and Caldwell scheduled an appointment online for the Moderna vaccine on April 29 in Bennington.
But some students were not able to get an April appointment — despite the Department of Health’s efforts.
Aditya Jain ’22, whose appointment for the J&J vaccine at the Hannaford Pharmacy was also cancelled on April 13, was not able to reschedule his appointment through the department until May 14.
“What are the odds, really?” Jain said. “I just kind of laughed it off.”
As an international student, Jain may need to find accommodation in Vermont past the end of finals week or travel back to Vermont in order to receive his second dose.
Vermont’s decision to pause J&J appointments through April 23 has led other students to seek appointments well outside of Addison County, as limited availability and weeks-long wait times may inhibit some from receiving both shots of a two-dose vaccine before the end of the semester. Some students have been able to find earlier appointments less than an hour’s drive across the Vermont-New York border.
Though most travel is currently restricted to Addison County, students can seek approval from the college to cross state lines for vaccine appointments if the trip can be completed in a single day.
Some students scheduled out-of-state appointments within a day of their original appointment and decided not to ask permission to travel.
Other students have struggled to find any vaccination appointment after a cancellation. Ananya Manjunath ’23 — whose appointment for the J&J vaccine was canceled on April 13 — also found that nothing was available until the middle of May and most were located more than an hour away from campus. Without a car on campus, Manjunath was worried she could not make it there and has yet to reschedule her appointment.
“I was really hoping that maybe [the health department] would do it for me, since I had already scheduled one and they canceled it due to reasons outside of my control,” Manjunath said.
In an email to students sent on April 15, Dean of Students Derek Doucet announced that a plan was in the works to help transport students to vaccine appointments.
“Thus far, appointments have been most readily available in Rutland, and our transportation plan will, at least initially, focus there,” Doucet wrote.
In that same email, Doucet announced that students living or working on campus this summer will be required to be vaccinated. Students staying in Vermont over the summer become eligible on April 19, and the email encouraged students to sign up “immediately” once registration opens.
The email stated that all out-of-state students will be eligible beginning on April 30.
Lucy Townend '22 is a Managing Editor alongside Abigail Chang.
She previously served as a senior section editor, a local editor, and a copy editor.
Townend is majoring in International Politics and Economics, studying French throughout her years at Middlebury and is planning on completing a thesis focused on income inequality and regime change.
This previous summer, Townend interned as a private banking analyst at a mid-sized bank in Chicago and plans to continue her work there after graduation.