Malheur County’s battle to defeat Covid loses key weapon as Johnson & Johnson vaccine put on hold

Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Ontario employees pull the first does of the Covid vaccine to arrive at the hospital in December. Federal and state officials announced distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will end immediately.(Photo courtesy of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Ontario).

UPDATE: This story has been updated at 10 a.m Tuesday with new information from Malheur County officials.

UPDATE: This story has been updated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday with information regarding Saint Alphonsus Meddical Center.

ONTARIO – An ambitious effort to step up vaccinations in Malheur County was impaired Tuesday when federal and state authorities advised putting a hold on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations while a medical issue is investigated.

Malheur County already had the second-worst Covid vaccination rate in the state but the Malheur . . .