County Pauses Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Montgomery County will pause the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, according to a press release issued today.

The announcement comes after six women recipients who were between 18 and 48 nationwide developed rare episodes involving blood clots within two weeks of vaccination.

“While questions remain about the rare occurrence of blood clots in some individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we are operating from an abundance of caution in pausing the use of the vaccine for our residents. To date, we have not had any reported cases to us involving Montgomery County residents,” said Dr. Travis Gayles, Montgomery County health officer. “Anyone who has received the J&J vaccine and develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. If a health care provider has a patient reporting the above symptoms following vaccination, they are asked to report these events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.”

According to the county, approximately 960 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were on hand for appointments today at the mass vaccination site in Germantown.  Those doses will be substituted with initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  No other County-operated vaccination sites are currently using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“This morning’s news regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is causing concern for many and it is understandable,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Although the cases of adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are extremely rare, I applaud the decision by the FDA, CDC, and MDH (Maryland Department of Health) to immediately pause the use of this vaccine as a precaution. I am one of millions who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and I have felt no side effects. Until further notice our health department will be substituting Pfizer doses for the Johnson & Johnson doses. At this point, we will continue to monitor the situation and we will keep you informed as we learn more. I encourage anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to continue to follow developing news on this situation and follow the advice of health experts.”

The County received 7,020 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, a decrease from last week’s delivery of 10,730 doses. The County will notify people who have appointments if there are any additional changes to clinic schedules.

Graphic courtesy Montgomery County Government

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