Mid-South health departments pausing use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines following CDC recommendation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis will pause all Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses after the CDC’s recommendation concerning the vaccine.

Health agencies in the U.S. called for a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine as officials investigate blood clots reported in six individuals who received the vaccine.

Coronavirus: US health agencies call for pause in use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Vaccine hesitancy is one of the many battles health experts are up against as they work to fight COVID-19.

And the news of the CDC and FDA suggesting the distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine be paused because six women suffered from blood clots makes matters more difficult.

“I feel like they’re rushing it out, but I understand because we’re in a pandemic,” said Austin Powers, Memphian.

But others don’t think people should jump to conclusions.

“If they do notice side effects, yeah you need to be careful, but you do need to make sure is it the vaccine causing it or is it unrelated?” said Elizabeth Sibley, Memphis.

The city of Memphis did not let the issue affect vaccine distribution Tuesday. It switched to the Pfizer vaccine at a community site in Raleigh.

“Any barrier that causes people to have one more reason not to get the vaccine is concerning, and we’re trying to break down as many barriers as possible,” said Doug McGowen, Memphis Chief Operating Officer.

The health department said this pause shows the system is working. One Memphian finding hope in that. “Knowing we have options like Moderna and Pfizer and things like that. I don’t think it’s the end of the world,” said Sibley.

FAQ: Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in the Mid-South

The Tennessee Department of Health also has paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the state.

A release stated:

The Tennessee Department of Health is acting upon recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Our vaccine supply continues to surpass demand and we do not anticipate this shift will impact our efforts to vaccinate as many Tennesseans as possible. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

While the reports of serious adverse events after the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are rare, six cases out of nearly 7 million doses administered, TDH is taking necessary precautions and is coordinating with our vaccine providers that may have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in supply to ensure those in our state who are seeking a vaccine have access to vaccines manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna. Both vaccines are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 after 14 days from the second vaccine dose. Both doses are required to achieve the best protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Earlier Tuesday morning, the Mississippi Department of Health instructed all physicians, clinics and hospitals to stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until additional guidance comes from the CDC/FDA.

In Arkansas, The Arkansas Department of Health announced it is following the recommendations of the FDA and CDC and will also pause the use of the Janssen Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

ADH will continue to hold vaccine clinics if Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are available.

ADH released the following statement:

ADH is following the recommendations of the FDA and CDC and will pause the use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. We will not hold the scheduled community clinics with the Janssen vaccine. We will still hold the clinics if Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is available. We’ll provide updates on upcoming clinics as soon as we are able. We are also communicating this guidance to providers administering vaccines through the state program.

The Memphis Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center has also paused the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines after the FDA and CDC recommendations.

In a release, the VA said:

The Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance to pause in providing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at this time. This pause is due to a possible concern about rare side effects. Your safety is our top priority.

As a result of this action and until further notice, vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine of Veterans, Spouses of Veterans, Caregivers of Veterans, and CHAMPVA Recipients scheduled on April 15, 2021 at the VA Clinic in Jackson Tennessee, have been cancelled. Additional information will be provided concerning vaccination dates scheduled for the Tupelo Mississippi and Savannah Tennessee VA Clinics.