County halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution

By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, April 14, 2021

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Following the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put a pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, both the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Sonoma County’s health department released statements about the recommendation.

“Today, the CDC and FDA have recommended a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution. Of over 6.8 million doses administered nationally, there have been six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan, in a statement.

All six of the cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48.

The CDPH then directed health care providers in the state to pause the use of the vaccine until more direction is given. This week, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine accounted for 4% of the state’s vaccine allocation. This week Sonoma County received 400 doses, not including any federal allocations of the vaccine that went to pharmacies or other vendors.

“At the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, Sonoma County has paused further allocation and use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine while its safety is reviewed by federal authorities,” said Dr. Urmila Shende, the county’s vaccine chief.

Locally, both a drive-thru clinic at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building and a clinic through West County Community Health Center had planned to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The veterans building clinic was able to go forward as planned, instead using the Moderna vaccine. The west county clinic has been suspended for now.

“While the immediate impacts of this delay may be minimal in our area, we recognize that this will make finding vaccination appointments all the more difficult particularly at a time when eligibility will be opening up to everyone age 16 and over starting on Thursday. We encourage everyone to be patient as they search for appointments as our supply was already limited before this hold took effect,” Shende said.

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and experience severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain and/or shortness of breath in one to three weeks after receiving the vaccine should contact their primary care provider or local health clinic.

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