Johnson & Johnson vaccine use paused in West Virginia

Sarah Marino |, Times West Virginian, Fairmont
·3 min read

Apr. 13—FAIRMONT — Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday that upon the recommendation released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, that use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia will pause until further notice.

In a press release, WVU stated out of more than 6.8 million doses administered in the U.S., six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in individuals who have received the J&J vaccine are being monitored.

The type of blood clot observed is called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and is seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

Lloyd White, administrator for the Marion County Health Department, said of the shots administered locally, no one has come forward with the symptoms described by the CDC.

"We have administered very few doses. However, we will obviously no longer administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until such time that we get release from the CDC to do so," said White.

White said the health department first received the vaccine last week. He said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses will be able to replace those doses of the J&J shot.

He said the challenge is that the J&J vaccine is more attractive because is a single dose shot and could be administered to the homebound population. He said with the other vaccines, his staff requires two trips to peoples' homes, which is logistically challenging.

Arrangements will be made for those who do need vaccinations because they are homebound. He said the health department will receive the Pfizer vaccine and will use it going forward.

White said he doesn't think people will need to see a doctor if they have received J&J shot. He said typically what has been observed is that the product only impacted females within a certain age group.

"I can tell you the ones that we have administered were to folks beyond age 45. That's not to say that the risk isn't there but what I am saying is in the population of 65 plus we have not been made aware that they are at any greater risk with the J&J," said White.

He said if somebody hasn't experienced any of those adverse side effects after getting the vaccine that he's fairly confident they won't.

Jennifer Goldcamp, director of nursing at the Monongalia County Health Department, said fortunately the discontinuation of the J&J shot hasn't been terribly disruptive to the practice because the clinic was not using the J&J vaccine yet.

The health department offers Moderna vaccines at the health department and the Pfizer vaccine at its Morgantown Mall clinic.

"We had planned to use the Johnson & Johnson to reach out to our vulnerable population, such as our homeless, our homebound just because it is easier to administer that one dose vaccine," said Goldcamp.

Goldcamp said there have not been any adverse reactions to the J&J shot reported in West Virginia. She said Wednesday the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices will meet and will discuss the adverse events.

"There's a very good chance after this meeting they may look at the data and say it's OK to resume and press forward," said Goldcamp.

She said what really needs to be pressed upon the public is if someone hasn't received a vaccine that they should get one.

"It's just important people get vaccinated in order to reach that herd immunity to protect our community," said Goldcamp.

Reach Sarah Marino at 304-367-2549