County, state halt Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution

Chad Frey
The Kansan
In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a "pause" in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

On Tuesday KDHE announced the suspension of the use of a vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, due to reports of blood clots possibly caused by the vaccine. 

There are reports of six recipients in the United States who developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within about two weeks of vaccination. No known cases have been reported in Kansas to date.  

“Just as important as getting vaccines into arms -- is making sure those vaccines are safe,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “While this appears to have affected six people in the nearly seven million doses administered, out of an abundance of caution, Kansas will suspend Johnson and Johnson until the CDC and FDA clear it for use again. In the meantime, we anticipate our shipments of Pfizer and Moderna to continue and we will build on the one-third of Kansans who have already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, announced the pause at a Tuesday morning briefing for reporters hosted by the University of Kansas Health System.

The Harvey County Health Department did not have any of the vaccine in stock at the time. 

"We do have some other providers in our county that will likely just hold onto that until we hear further," said Lynette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department. 

To date, the department has given more than 6,620 shots since vaccines became available in December. 

"This week we have pods for second doses, we do not have any for first doses this week," Redington said. 

According to KDHE, the federal government will further study links between the vaccine and the rare blood clotting disorder. An emergency meeting of the CDC’s advisory committee has been scheduled for Wednesday.

KDHE asked providers with Johnson & Johnson vaccine to pause administration of the vaccine immediately and to place the supply into storage while material is reviewed. After KDHE has reviewed the findings from the federal government, further guidance will be given to providers on next steps.

Those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should contact their health care provider if they have any symptoms and report any illness to the VAERS Reporting System, https://vaers.hhs.gov.

According to KDHE, the week of April 19 Kansas is anticipated to receive the following doses:

39,780 Pfizer Prime

38,610 Pfizer Boost

29,000 Moderna Prime

27,800 Moderna Boost

Variants

The state of Kansas is monitoring variants of COVID-19 for the state, with the most found variant the U'K variant. As of Tuesday, there were more than 100 cases of variants logged in the state — with 127 cases of the UK variant logged. A total of 133 variant cases have been logged in Kansas. 

However, according to Redington the variant has not been found in Harvey County. 

County trends

15,297 individuals have been tested, with more than 30,000 tests adminstered, in Harvey County since the pandemic began. 

"Our testing rate has remained very  high. I thank people who know they are a close contact or want to know their condition who are getting out and getting tested,," Redington said. 

The two-week positivity rate dropped to just over 3 percent, while the number of current hospitalizations dropped to zero. There are currently only seven active cases in the county.