JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Friday, a U.S. health panel said it’s time to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, despite a very rare risk of blood clots.
A few hours later, health officials lifted an 11-day pause on the J&J vaccine.
The vaccine has been on a pause since April 12 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a joint statement, “they were reviewing data involving six reported U.S cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in people who received Johnson and Johnson.”
Out of more than 7 million people who received the vaccine health officials uncovered 15 cases of blood clots, as of Friday. Three of them were fatal. All were women, most younger than 50.
After the announcement, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management quickly stopped the use of Johnson and Johnson at four of its federally supported sites, pop-up sites and statewide efforts to vaccinate homebound residents. Federally supported sites just resumed first doses this week after doses of Pfizer were reallocated.
In recent weeks, vaccine demand in Florida has dipped. Out of nearly 8,000 available doses at state-run and federally supported sites in Jacksonville on Thursday, a little more than 1,500 were administered. That is roughly 19% of what was available.
Epidemiologist Chad Nielsen, with UF Health, said that because demand is not what experts expected following the age eligibility being lowered, outreach efforts will be important going forward.
“Your age is no longer a protective factor when we are talking about these new variant strains that are circulating, and probably dominant, in the state of Florida. You are still an at-risk individual no matter what your age nowadays,” said Nielsen. “Maybe that wasn’t the case earlier, but it certainly is now.”