Kansas and Missouri pause Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution following federal concern

Screen Shot 2021 04 13 At 24719 Pm

Following guidance from the CDC, state health officials announced a pause of giving out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. // Image courtesy of KDHE

Both Kansas and Missouri have paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following federal concerns about reported incidents of blood clot development from people who received it.

Six individuals so far out of over 6 million in the United States have reported development of a rare and severe type of blood clot. Even though these numbers demonstrate an extremely small likelihood of this side effect so far, Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Tuesday that the numbers are significant enough to call for a pause.

He predicts the impact of this pause on the state won’t be large because Johnson & Johnson made up an already small percentage of administered shots at only roughly 3% so far, according to KDHE.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge setback because the last few weeks we talked about all the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we were supposed to be getting out but for a variety of production and other reasons, it never materialized,” Norman says.

This halt in distribution is a recommendation from KDHE, not a mandate. Regardless, this leaves county health departments and pharmacies to determine how to proceed with mass vaccination clinics and appointments originally expected to involve Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution without much time to do so.

Johnson County and Douglas County both plan to pause giving out the Johnson & Johnson after direction from the state. The Platte County Health Department is asking residents who signed up for an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to reschedule their appointment through the state’s Vaccine Navigator System or by calling 877-435-8411. The Missouri National Guard is already replacing allocations of Johnson & Johnson with Moderna doses at some of the soonest planned vaccination events.

“JCDHE is following federal and state guidance to pause Johnson & Johnson doses,” says Dr. Sanmi Areola of JCDHE. “Although these side effects are extremely rare, we support further investigation to promote safety of vaccine administration. These platelet-related concerns have not been reported with the Pfizer and Moderna doses. It’s crucial that vaccinations continue, so we can stop COVID-19 and its variants from continuing to spread.”

Sonia Jordan, Director of Informatics at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, says this change of plans shouldn’t affect vaccine availability.

“All of our clinics at the fairgrounds the next two weeks will administer Pfizer doses, as we have primarily at these events since late January,” Jordan says. “We have no planned Johnson & Johnson clinics at this time, so we are at a good place for pausing and waiting for additional guidance that CDC, FDA and KDHE can provide on this. As it is important to administer the vaccines right now, it is critical to ensure those vaccines are safe.”

Categories: News