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Vt. poised to resume J&J vaccinations as early as Tuesday

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 5:51 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 8:27 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont health officials are still awaiting specific federal guidance on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a CDC advisory panel’s recommendations late Friday to resume the shots.

The panel urged resuming the Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot, saying its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clots. Federal health officials uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot, out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. All were women, most under age 50. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.

Vermont health officials on Friday said they could begin administering the J&J shots as early as Tuesday in the Northeast Kingdom if the final word from the feds comes out by the end of the day Friday as expected. “We will be preparing guidance for Vermonters and Vermont clinicians this evening. And if there are no major stipulations on who should be given the vaccine, we will then develop even more opportunities for how to access this vaccine,” said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

Levine said they are expecting an update to the states sometime Friday evening.

VACCINATION ROLLOUT UPDATE

As of Friday, Vermont health officials say nearly 56% of Vermonters have received at least one dose of vaccine, or more than 300,000 Vermonters. Officials say the state is well on the way to reaching the vaccination requirements listed under the Vermont Forward reopening plan.

The state will next open vaccine registrations to out-of-state college students and part-time residents on April 29.

HEALTH UPDATE

As of Friday, Vermont health officials reported 89 new coronavirus cases for a total of 22,416. There have been a total of 243 deaths. The state’s percent positive seven-day average is 1.3%. A total of 375,400 people have been tested, and 19,062 have recovered.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says the state has seen a 36% decline in COVID cases over the last two weeks. He says there are three variants that have been reported in Vermont so far and about 50% of them comprise the U.K. variant. The commissioner says the vaccines are still proving to be effective against these more contagious variants.

The state tested 226 school staff last week and for the third week in a row no one tested positive. The state will end that surveillance program after next week. Education Secretary Dan French says graduations and proms will happen but schools must follow state guidelines to keep people safe. Those details are expected to be released later Friday.

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