Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
Local public health departments will cease distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended halting its use as it reviews data on the vaccine.
Jefferson County received 600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week, while Washington County received 400 and Henry County received 1,600. Public health administrators in Jefferson and Washington counties said they used most of their doses and have canceled plans to use the rest of them this week after learning of the CDC and FDA’s recommendation.
Jefferson County Public Health Administrator Chris Estle said her office planned to hold a clinic Wednesday to administer the remaining 140 or so doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine left from last week, but that is not happening now.
Washington County Public Health Administrator Danielle Pettit-Majewski said she was planning to administer the remaining 50 to 100 Johnson & Johnson vaccines left over from last week but is now holding off.
Henry County Public Health Administrator Shelley Van Dorin said her office had used about 300 of the 1,600 Johnson & Johnson doses it was given. The doses were intended for people in the 1B second tier priority, which includes those who work in manufacturing and food and agriculture distribution who cannot socially distance.
Estle and Pettit-Majewski stressed that there’s no reason for people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to panic given the low probability — less than one in a million — of developing blood clots, which is the reason for the pause.
The CDC and FDA recommended a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because six people out of 6.8 million who received it reported a rare and severe blood clot. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, according to a news release from Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
The CDC plans to convene a meeting Wednesday to further review the cases with the FDA and assess their significance.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,“ the news release stated.
Estle said that those who have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should pay attention to their health, and if they have a severe headache within three weeks after getting vaccinated, to talk to their medical provider.
Pettit-Majewski said this recommendation from the CDC and FDA should not be interpreted to mean that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe.
“We still have two other vaccines [Pfizer and Moderna] that are safe and effective,” Pettit-Majewski said. “I don’t want people to worry or change their mind about getting the vaccine.“
Pettit-Majewski said the public should bear in mind the costs of getting COVID-19, which has killed more than 560,000 Americans and nearly 3 million people worldwide.
Estle and Pettit-Majewski said their offices will continue to receive 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine each week, while Van Dorin said Henry County will continue to receive 400 per week. Local pharmacies are receiving regular allotments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the federal pharmacy program.
Van Dorin said she’s been especially pleased with the number of Henry County residents who have received a vaccine, which she said is more than 40 percent.