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Johnson & Johnson vaccine on pause; some Llano County clinics canceled

Clinics scheduled to distribute the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Kingsland and Llano were canceled Tuesday, April 13, after that particular vaccine was put on “pause” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinations were due to be given at the Kingsland Community Center in Kingsland and Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church in Llano.

“This will not affect any of our efforts to use the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,” Llano County Local Health Authority Dr. Jack Franklin said in a statement announcing the cancellations. 

The two-shot vaccine produced by Pfizer is being given at clinics for teens, Wednesday, April 14, and Thursday, April 15, in Llano and Kingsland. The FDA has authorized the two-dose Pfizer vaccine for ages 16 and older.

In response to the “pause” and suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinics this week, Franklin is recommending those who wish to be vaccinated contact providers such as Corner Drug Health Mart, Bay Pharmacy, Mid Coast Central Medical Center-Llano, and Hill Country Direct Care to schedule Moderna vaccine appointments. Other information regarding upcoming vaccine clinics can be found on the Llano County COVID-19 response website

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on pause “out of an abundance of caution” after six women between the ages of 18 and 48 suffered a rare and severe type of blood clot several days after receiving their shots. The two federal agencies are reviewing the data. The six women represent a very small percentage of people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. FDA and CDC officials stated that providers have administered more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as of Monday, April 12.

The CDC will convene its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday, April 14, to review the cases as well as assess their “potential significance.” The FDA will also investigate the blood clot cases.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

According to CDC and FDA officials, physicians usually use heparin, an anticoagulant, to treat blood clots. But in the case of blood clots related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the use of heparin could be dangerous, so medical teams need to use alternative treatments.

Officials are recommending that those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and exhibit a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of the shot should contact their healthcare provider.

Following the federal announcement, the Texas Department of State Health Services released a statement asking providers to follow the FDA and CDC recommendation. State officials said none of the six cases were in Texas, where providers had administered more than 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

DSHS directed providers who have received Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to continue to store them in proper conditions for possible use later. 

daniel@thepicayune.com

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