The Christian County Health Department will temporarily halt administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following a recommendation from federal agencies to pause its use while health officials study a potentially dangerous reaction to the shot.
In a joint announcement Tuesday morning from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said a rare but severe blood clot condition was reported in six cases in the United States. The vaccine has been administered to more than 6.8 million people so far in the U.S.
The local health department, in a Facebook post, said it will give only the Moderna vaccine at its regional vaccination site at the James E. Bruce Convention Center and at four mobile sites planned this month. (Vaccinations are administered at the Bruce Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and appointments can be scheduled online or by calling the health department at 270-887-4160, ext. 640.)
The health department was working Tuesday morning on the logistics of shifting from the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Moderna, which requires two shots.
The first of the mobile clinics in Hopkinsville will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Christian County Senior Citizens Center and 1 p.m. Wednesday at Virginia Street Baptist Church. The health department will try to schedule everyone at that clinic to get the second shot 28 days later at the same location, County Health Director Kayla Bebout told Hoptown Chronicle.
The shift to a vaccine that requires two shots could complicate the goal of the mobile clinics, which the health department planned so it could reach groups that are transient or might have trouble getting to the Bruce Center.
The CDC and FDA said officials are reviewing the six cases that resulted in cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. The condition affected six women, between the ages of 18 and 48. One of the women died. The cases were diagnosed six to 13 days after receiving the vaccine.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. 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,” the CDC and FDA said.
Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack on Tuesday advised all vaccine providers in the state to temporarily stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“Everyone should still get one of the other two COVID-19 vaccines during this pause. We cannot let this slow us down,” Beshear said. “The United States is going to get about 1.85 million more doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week. We should be able to make up any loss of appointments.”
Kentuckians should “stay calm,” the governor said.
The odds of dying from COVID-19 are much greater than the chance of developing blood clots from the J&J vaccine, the governor said.
Beshear noted that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky indicated the chance of developing blood clots from the J&J vaccine was less than 1 in 1 million. By comparison, roughly 1 in 590 Americans has died of COVID-19 in the past 13 months. (The death rate is calculated from the CDC’s number of confirmed deaths, at 559,741, and the Census Bureau’s population for the U.S., which is approximately 330.2 million.)
This story has been updated with information about the response from state officials.