Malheur County pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in accordance with state and federal guidance

8-day vaccine event with OHA/FEMA still on track to start this Friday

The use of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is on hold in Malheur County pending review by the FDA and CDC. Both federal entities, along with the Oregon Health Authority, called for that pause this morning citing six cases out of 6.85 million doses of a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) that developed in women ranging in age from 18 to 48 within two weeks of being vaccinated. At this time, it is unknown if the blood clots are related to the vaccine.

 “CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” a joint statement by the CDC and FDA reads.

Of the 11,668 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to Malheur County residents, 1,085 were Johnson & Johnson – less than 10%. The large majority of vaccines have been Moderna, according to the OHA’s Vaccination Trends Dashboard.

The Malheur County Health Department will move forward with plans to team up with the OHA and FEMA on an 8-day COVID-19 vaccine event that begins this Friday at 4 p.m. at the Malheur County Fairgrounds. “We have plenty of Moderna vaccine available to us for this event,” MCHD Director Sarah Poe said. “We are close to 100 COVID-19-related deaths between Malheur County and neighboring Payette County. We are prioritizing the risks associated with COVID-19 and we know that our best tool in the fight against it is vaccination.”

Poe said the nationwide pause is a good indication that the vaccine monitoring system works. “This should give us all even more confidence in the rigorous safety protocols being followed in development and use of COVID-19 vaccines.”

MCHD Health Officer and Medical Director Sarah Laiosa, DO, said the risks associated with being infected with COVID-19 far outweigh the risk that these cases might represent, should it be determined that they are related to the vaccine. “The risk of clotting from COVID-19 is 16.5%. Comparatively, that’s significant. We trust in the process of ensuring that the vaccines available in the U.S. are safe, and we trust in the safety of the vaccines that are currently in use and will be made available for the upcoming event,” she said.

The FDA and CDC recommend that “People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.” They will provide additional information and answer questions later today at a media briefing. A recording of that media call will be available on the FDA’s YouTube channel.

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