The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will once again be distributed in the United States after an 11-day pause in distribution based on several instances of rare blood clots.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee met Friday and advised clinics to resume the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following a thorough review of rare instances of blood clots among half a dozen women who received the shot. According to a Food and Drug Administration press release, a total of 15 women are known to have developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine, and three have died.
Despite these cases, officials from the FDA and CDC said in a statement that the “potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.”
“Above all else, health and safety are at the forefront of our decisions,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said in a statement. “Our vaccine safety systems are working. We identified exceptionally rare events — out of millions of doses of the Janssen COVID-19 administered — and we paused to examine them more carefully. As we always do, we will continue to watch all signals closely as more Americans are vaccinated. I continue to be encouraged by the growing body of real-world evidence that the authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they protect people from disease, hospitalization, and death.”
Officials said Friday that anyone receiving the J&J single-dose shot will also receive an information sheet discussing the risks and describing the rare blood clotting disorder in further detail. Officials said the risk remains low and they will continue to monitor new developments.
With the news breaking late in the afternoon Friday, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, said he was unsure of when the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson shot would officially resume in Santa Barbara County.
Prior to the pause, the vaccine only accounted for about 5% of the state’s total allocation of vaccines, and therefore, the 11-day break did not have a significant impact on the county’s vaccine rollout, Dr. Ansorg said.
During Friday’s news conference, Dr. Ansorg discussed misinformation surrounding the vaccines, assuring the public that all of them are safe for pregnant women, have no impact on infertility and have shown no evidence of long term effects.
“It is true the speed by which the COVID vaccines were developed is astounding,” Dr. Ansorg said. “But keep in mind, the underlying biotechnology has been studied for at least a decade and no corners were cut in completion of the mandatory phases necessary.”
According to data from the County’s Public Health Department, 42% of Santa Barbara County residents have received at least one shot, and 27% are fully vaccinated. For those who are fully vaccinated, Dr. Ansorg said, it is safe to gather unmasked with other vaccinated people.
On Friday, the Public Health Department reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death. The individual who died was between the ages of 50 and 69 and had underlying conditions.
The South County unincorporated area reported six new cases Friday, Santa Barbara and Isla Vista reported five new cases, Santa Maria reported three new cases and Lompoc reported two new cases. The county has 153 total cases that are still infectious.
In addition, the Sheriff’s Office reported Friday the Main Jail has no active cases of COVID-19 at this time, according to a press release.