Health experts explain paused distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been distributed, with six reported blood clots.

WEBB CITY, Mo. —Public health officials are saying the best vaccine is the one first available to you.

For anyone who was hoping that would be the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, might have to get the Moderna or Pfizer instead.

This comes after the U.S reported six rare blood clots from the vaccine. These are the only incidents reported from the 6.8 million doses administered in the U.S. 

Local health officials like Larry Bergner don’t seem too concerned.

“So it’s good news that we’re going to stop and pause and let the scientists figure out what is going on with that vaccine,” Bergner said.

The Newton County health department administrator says those who have already received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine shouldn’t panic but should be aware in case any possible side effects arise.

“Those who have received the one-shot dose should not be alarmed, however, if you start to develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, and you are within three weeks of that vaccination, then we recommend that you seek medical attention with your primary care physician,” Bergner said.

He added it’s likely most won’t experience any side effects.

“If you’ve just recently received the vaccination, just be aware. Chances are high that you’re not going to experience any side effects. That it is going to be a safe vaccine. But there are rare instances that have occurred,” Bergner said.

He adds that it is still a safe vaccine and that this pause is to get to the root of the issue.

“So they’re still safe and effective, but there are going to be those rare cases and certainly CDC wants to take every precaution and so they’re gonna pause with the Johnson & Johnson until we find out exactly what’s going on.”

Some pharmacies that were administering the single-dose vaccine have since stopped. Prater’s Pharmacy in Webb City is now allowing anyone with a previous Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointment to reschedule for a Moderna vaccine appointment.

“We had some appointments today, we did have to reach out and cancel them, and ask the patients if they wanted to wait until the Johnson & Johnson became available again or if they would like to get their first dose of Moderna today”, said Koby Prater, pharmacist, and owner of Prater’s Pharmacy.

Prater says this new finding has caused vaccine hesitancy for some people.

“It’s caused hesitancy among some, for all the vaccines, even though the other ones are a different mechanism of action and don’t seem to have this very small risk of these blood clots.”    

Bergner still recommends getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and that if you haven’t received yours yet, options for a new appointment are just limited to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.