By Kimberly Davis

GLASSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — The vaccination rate is on the rise, but many continue to be left behind. There is a redoubling of efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy and reach the most vulnerable.

The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine did not help with vaccine hesitancy. Those who volunteer to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations say they’ve seen a decline in participation, substantially.

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“Our vulnerable patients are homeless, migrant population, or unstable housing,” Dr. Richard Jermyn with the Rowan Medicine School of Osteopathic Medicine said. “These patients didn’t have a lot of trust in doctors to begin with.”

It’s a grassroots effort to vaccinate that vulnerable population.

But volunteers with Rowan Medicine School of Osteopathic Medicine are hitting a roadblock.

Since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was taken off its pause, volunteers have seen about a 50% decrease in people receiving the J&J vaccine.

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“We were in Camden last weekend,” Jermyn said. “We expected at least 50 people. We injected two.”

During the pause, the Department of Health supplied volunteers with the Moderna vaccine in the meantime. Though Jermyn is hopeful those who received the first dose will return for their second, he says the likelihood is low.

“The one shot with the J&J for many of our patients, this is their only option, to keep them safe,” Jermyn said. “Our homeless patients, we’re not going to get them back again.”

Jermyn says one dose of the vaccine is better than no protection, and he’s looking at the glass as half-full.

“It’s about making sure that we get trust in a community that doesn’t trust doctors,” Jermyn said, “and is about making sure that even two people are better than none. So, that gives me hope.”

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Since the J&J vaccine was taken off pause, volunteers have moved forward only using the J&J vaccine to inoculate patients.

Kimberly Davis