Clinic

File photo. Local health officials continue to host vaccine clinics at the fairgrounds.

Douglas County health officials will pause administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of caution, following a recommendation from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment Tuesday.

This will not affect upcoming clinics scheduled for this week at the Douglas County Fairgrounds from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, according to an announcement from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. 

Local health officials plan to administer the Pfizer vaccine, which they primarily have been administering at the fairground clinics anyway. 

The announcement from the county health department came after the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced they identified six individuals who developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within two weeks of receiving the vaccine on Tuesday. 

Nearly 7 million people have received the vaccine in the United States so far, according to a joint statement from the CDC and FDA. There have been no known cases of the rare disorder in Kansas as of Tuesday, according to a news release from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s office. 

However, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment announced it would pause distributing the vaccine and recommended local providers do the same. 

In Douglas County, roughly 1,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered through the supply given to the county health department, with no known patient of the rare disorder involving blood clots as of Tuesday. 

It’s possible some individual pharmacies and providers could have received their own allotments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well outside of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. 

“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,” Kelly said in a statement.

All six cases reported in the U.S. were among women between ages 18 to 48. The CDC is convening with an advisory committee Wednesday to determine how severe the cases are. The FDA will also conduct an analysis. 

“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare,” the statement from the CDC and FDA read. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”

Douglas County plans to continue administering the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Nearly 38,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and roughly 9,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered in the county as of Tuesday. 

“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,” said Sonia Jordan, director of informatics for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, in a statement. “As it is important to administer the vaccines right now, it is critical to ensure those vaccines are safe.”

Following findings from the CDC and FDA, the Kansas Health Department will then give guidance to local health departments on how to move forward with the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For now, the Health Department recommends keeping Johnson & Johnson stored. 

Anyone experiencing stroke-like symptoms after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, such as numbness or tingling in limbs, slurred speech, inability to talk or stand should immediately call 911 or go to an emergency department, according to a news release from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. 

Typical symptoms from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine include pain, redness of skin or swelling near the injection site. Patients have also reported general symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea and a fever. 

Those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should contact their health care provider if they have any concerns. 

As a whole, at least one-third of Kansans have received their first dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Coronavirus vaccines are available to all Kansans 16 and older. 

The Douglas County Commission will discuss Wednesday whether to place a new health order into effect that would eliminate a limitation on mass gatherings. The proposed health order would still enforce businesses limit their capacity to 50% of its occupancy, unless the business writes to local health officials a request to opt out. 

Businesses that opt out would have to post a sign in front of their venue that they’ve chosen to exceed 50% of its occupancy limitation, under the proposed health order. 

The health order would still mandate that masks be worn in public spaces. 

The County Commission will meet at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Discussion on the proposed health order will likely take place at the session at 5:30 p.m.

Douglas County residents who would like a COVID-19 vaccine can register using a list of codes available through https://ldchealth.org/460/COVID-19-Vaccine

Reach reporter Nicole Asbury at eudoratimes@gmail.com.

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