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Pima County pauses distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine following CDC announcement

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:24 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 1:39 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County is following guidance from the CDC and the Arizona Department of Health Services to temporarily pause distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.

So far in Arizona, 226,300 doses of the vaccine have been allocated with approximately 122,000 administered.

The Pima County Health Department has already given 24,600 doses Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, primarily at its mobile points of distribution and has received no reports of adverse reactions. The first shipments of the vaccine arrived in the county March 4.

The county will give the Moderna vaccine in place of the J&J vaccine and does not anticipate the need to cancel any appointments or vaccination events.

In an April 13 statement from the CDC, the agency reported six U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

“While the occurrence of this rare blood clot are extremely rare compared to the number of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered nationwide, we are following the guidance of the CDC and FDA out of an abundance of caution and we will continue to work with our federal and statewide partners about the status of the vaccine,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and is one of the best tools we have to reduce the spread of the disease in Arizona. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Pima County residents who received the J&J vaccine and have experienced symptoms of severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their primary care physician immediately.

Information about all vaccination sites across Arizona can be found at azhealth.gov/findvaccine. At 11 a.m. every Friday, ADHS makes appointments available at state-run sites for the following week. Registration for these and many other sites are available at podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m, seven days a week. Both resources offer assistance in English and Spanish.

The CDC administers an after-vaccination health checker program called V-safe that enables those who register to tell the CDC about any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Register through your smartphone HERE.

Below is a breakdown of what other counties and businesses are doing following the announcement.

Cochise County said it is pausing use of the vaccine, but it will keep and store what doses it does have.

“We will pause until the FDA and CDC meet April 14, to review the six cases of CVST (a type of blood clot), and make a final determination on the safety and use of the vaccine. Ultimately, our goal is always to ensure the safety of our community and residents,” the county said. “At this time, we are continuing to monitor the situation as it develops, and will actively share important updates as they pertain to Cochise County.”

Santa Cruz County said it is pausing, but will keep and store what doses it does have. Jeff Terrell,health services director for Santa Cruz County, said the department will offer the Moderna vaccine for those who had appointments for the J&J, or anyone else who has yet to be vaccinated and it 18 and older.

“We’re concentrating more on the Moderna. We’ve gotten very little Johnson and Johnson allocation in the county overall,” said Terrell. “The impact is not going to affect us as much as maybe some of the larger counties.”

Walmart immediately paused administration of the J&J vaccine until the federal government completes a thorough review.

“If someone has an appointment and we have a different vaccine, they will receive the one available,” the company said in a statement. “If not, we will cancel their appointment and rebook for a later date once supply allows.”

“Effective immediately, as we await further guidance from the FDA and CDC, Kroger’s Family of Pharmacies and The Little Clinics (collectively, “Kroger”) will pause administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” the company said in a statement.

“Kroger will continue administering the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. When available, patients scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be provided either the Pfizer or Moderna 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine. If the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is not available, Kroger will work with the patient to reschedule their vaccination appointment.”

Albertson’s/Safeway said it has paused use of the vaccine.

“Patients who are scheduled for one will be notified that their appointment will be canceled and will be able to reschedule for either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine,” the company said in a release.

“Following today’s recommendation from the FDA and CDC for a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution, we are immediately suspending the administration of the J&J vaccine at our stores and off-site clinics and are awaiting further guidance,” the company said in a statement.

“We are reaching out to patients with scheduled appointments and rescheduling vaccinations from other manufacturers, as supply allows. We will continue to work closely with the FDA and CDC and, as always, the health and safety of our patients and customers is our highest priority.”

“We have implemented a pause in the use of Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine per the recommendation from federal health agencies. We continue to offer both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines,” the company said.

“Due to this pause, we are emailing all customers who have a scheduled appointment to receive a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at CVS Pharmacy to inform them that their appointment is being canceled. We regret any inconvenience and will follow up with affected customers to reschedule their appointments as soon as possible.”

KOLD News 13 has reached out to the store and we are waiting to hear back.

Tucson Medical Center said from an operational standpoint, they are “offering to reschedule patients to either Udall or TCC, or to keep them on the list for future J&J clinics should they come back.”

The CDC and FDA have recommended a temporary pause on the use of Johnson and Johnson vaccine until they can review data involving six reported U.S. cases of an extremely rare type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine.

Until that review is complete, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices provides further guidance, Maricopa County Department of Public Health recommends a pause in the use of Johnson and Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution. The primary goal is to understand all of the information available and to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for this rare adverse event and can recognize and manage this unique type of blood clot. It is important for the public to know that this rare blood clot has not been reported following receipt of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

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