Johnson & Johnson vaccine to resume in Vermont following pause

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)(Marta Lavandier | AP)
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 10:31 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Department of Health announced on Friday that it will resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the week of April 26.

The decision was made following the announcement late Friday by the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is recommended for people 18 years of age and older, and that the pause on its use since April 13 can be lifted. The CDC announced the pause after reports of a small number of people experiencing adverse reactions involving a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. The problems were found up to 2 weeks after vaccination. There have been no reported cases of these side effects in Vermont.

“We are glad to have this supply of vaccine available again to protect Vermonters from the COVID-19 virus,” said Governor Phil Scott, R-Vermont. “I appreciate the transparent effort made by the CDC and FDA in reviewing the facts during the pause. This demonstrates the commitment we all have to ensuring vaccine safety. I encourage all Vermonters who are eligible to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, with whatever vaccine is available and most appropriate.”

Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 24, Vermonters 18 and older can sign up to get the single-dose shot. People 16 and 17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Certain participating pharmacy partners, including CVS and Walgreens, are making plans to also offer Johnson & Johnson vaccine. People can contact those pharmacies directly. In addition, a drive-through clinic in the Northeast Kingdom offering 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be held at the Barton Fairgrounds on Tuesday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To register for an appointment or change one you already have, please visit the Vermont Health Department’s website or call 855-722-7878 if you need assistance.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that while the disruption was unfortunate, from a public health perspective, the actions taken to pause and study the vaccine were completely appropriate. 

“This is public health at work. We have a responsibility to make sure the science is sound, so that people have confidence in the J & J, and all vaccines,” said Dr. Levine.

Vermont joined most other states in pausing use of the vaccine on the recommendation of the CDC. Federal health officials announced the temporary halt to allow the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices time to review additional data about reported side effects. Nearly 8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

Dr. Levine said that Vermont’s health care providers have been given information and guidance about the potential blood clotting symptoms and appropriate medical treatment. Updated clinician guidance will continue to be provided.

Although the side effects of concern are extremely rare, the FDA and CDC recommend that people who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should immediately contact their health care provider.

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