With the announcement of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine put on pause, and the opening of the vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 16, many people may be left wondering if it will be harder to obtain an appointment to get their vaccine.
Misty Aguilar at Grant County Health District (GCHD) said that Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not being thrown away but being kept until further notice.
Despite those vaccines being withheld, GCHD is not worried about any disruptions to vaccine availability. “As of what we know right now, there is plenty of capacity in our region for vaccine appointments. Now that anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive the vaccine, we hope those spots will fill up,” Aguilar said.
A release from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) on April 13 addressed that the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine was put on hold in Washington following guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are reviewing data involving six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, all women under 50 years old.
“At this time, we have no knowledge of the six patients who experienced these blood clots being Washington residents,” the release stated.
The release also stated that for people who got the vaccine more than a month prior have a very low risk of this complication. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
No definitive cause has been identified yet, but the FDA said Monday that a probable cause is a rare immune response generated by an individual after receiving the vaccine.
“The action is being taken out of an abundance of caution and the potential side effects appear to be extremely rare,” stated the release.
About 149,000 doses of J&J vaccine have been administered in Washington as of April 13, out of more than four million doses total.
The DOH also included a three-week vaccine allocation forecast, which is an estimate that helps with planning at the state and local level. The numbers are subject to change as vaccine availability from the federal government may change:
• Week of April 18: 364,700 total doses (191,680 first doses, 173,020 second doses)
This includes 210,600 doses of Pfizer and 154,100 doses of Moderna
• Week of April 25: 370,340 total doses (191,680 first doses, 178,660 second doses)
This includes 212,940 doses of Pfizer and 157,400 doses of Moderna
• Week of May 2: 377,360 total doses (191,680 first doses, 185,680 second doses)
This includes 219,960 doses of Pfizer and 157,400 doses of Moderna
In addition to Pfizer and Moderna, the forecast shows Washington will receive 4,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine each week. “We have reached out to our federal partners to see if these allocations will change following the decision to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” the release stated.