Philadelphia area pauses use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia region is putting a pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a recommendation from the country's top health agencies Tuesday morning.

The Action News Data Journalism Team has found that, so far, approximately 10% of people who have been inoculated in the Delaware Valley received the J&J vaccine.

Simone Washington, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said she developed some symptoms after getting the shot.

"I had a headache that never went away. Then I had a headache the following day, and I actually do have like sharp pains coming from my calf to my thighs," said Washington.

While she knows the blood clots being investigated by the CDC are extremely rare, and she waits to speak with her doctor, she wishes she had followed her reluctance to take the vaccine at all.

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The Philadelphia region is putting a pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a recommendation from the country's top health agencies Tuesday morning.



"I just go with the flow and it's like, I don't know, I don't know, I kind of regret doing it, now I'm kind of scared," said Washington.

Dr. Marci Drees, the Chief Infection Prevention Officer for Christiana Care, said despite this setback, the impact on the overall vaccine rollout will be minimal.

"We were anticipating a decrease in supply of J&J anyway because of the production issues, which are unrelated to this completely. So, I think we were always anticipating, in the next couple of weeks, we wouldn't have as much J&J anyway," she said.

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The Action News Data Journalism Team has found that, so far, approximately 10% of people who have been inoculated in the Delaware Valley received the J&J vaccine.



Philadelphia Pauses J&J



All clinics in Philadelphia have stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine under guidance from the FDA, according to city health officials.

The FDA and CDC are now conducting further investigations after federal officials said six women developed a rare disorder involving blood clots about two weeks after receiving the vaccine.

The women were between the ages of 18 and 48 years old. One died and a second in Nebraska is in the hospital in critical condition, according to health officials.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration are recommending that the United States pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine.



The clots were observed along with reduced platelet counts - making the usual treatment for blood clots, the blood thinner heparin, potentially "dangerous." Alternative treatments need to be given.

RELATED: FDA and CDC call for 'pause' on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after blood clot reports

"We are very concerned about this new development, and in the interest of safety, we are following the FDA's guidance and telling all of our providers to immediately stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. "I have full confidence that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine that is still available is safe and effective and strongly encourage folks to get vaccinated with those vaccines as soon as possible."

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects. The number affected by blood clots is small but out of an abundance of caution, federal health agencies are advising that the vaccine not be given out.

The other two authorized vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, make up the vast share of COVID-19 shots administered in the U.S. and are not affected by the pause.

Health officials said people who have received the J&J vaccine, and who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination, should immediately contact their health care provider.

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Out of 7 million shots, potentially dangerous blood clots were reported in six people, so while it’s extremely rare, it can also be very serious.



Officials running the two FEMA sites in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City and the Esperanza Community Center in Hunting Park have also confirmed that Johnson and Johnson will not be given at those sites.

FEMA issued the following statement:

"FEMA is committed to helping the President's goal to ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated can be. In alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration's recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, effective immediately FEMA will stop administering this vaccine at our pilot Community Vaccination Clinics, as well as via our Mobile Vaccine Units. We are working with our state partners to determine the path forward and find alternative vaccine options for these sites."

The Center City location was already scheduled to be closed Tuesday as staff prepared to administer only the Johnson and Johnson for the next two weeks.

Staff at Esperanza began turning away patients who showed up with appointments expecting to receive the J&J vaccine.

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People who were expecting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are being turned away across the city including at sites run by FEMA.



Those who are being turned away said they were instructed to come back Wednesday for the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech shot.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health released the following list of clinic changes:

Center City Vaccination Center (FEMA-supported clinic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center)
Will be open Tuesday, April 13, at noon and administer the Pfizer vaccine. The clinic will continue with the Pfizer vaccine for the foreseeable future and will maintain the current 6,000 appointments and walk-ups per day.

Esperanza Community Vaccination Center (FEMA-supported clinic at Esperanza)
Will be closed Tuesday, April 13. Beginning Wednesday, April 14, the clinic will switch to Pfizer vaccine and will maintain the current 1,000 appointments and walk-ups per day.

Health Department Community Clinics and Health Centers
Will be open with normal hours and operations, but will not use Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Philadelphia Fire Department Community Clinics
Will be closed until at least Monday, April 19.

Health Department and Partner Mobile Teams
Will continue operating, but will not use Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Partner Vaccine Clinics (including Black Doctor's COVID-19 Consortium, federally qualified health centers, independent and chain pharmacies, hospitals, etc.)
These clinics will move to Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if they are using Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If they are unable to use Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, they may close. Please call ahead if you have an appointment scheduled with them.




Pennsylvania



The Pennsylvania Department of Health notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers to pause administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine until at least April 20 following the recommendation out of an abundance of caution in a joint release from the CDC and FDA.

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The Philadelphia region is putting a pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a recommendation from the country's top health agencies Tuesday morning.



"While this announcement is challenging, it highlights the vaccine evaluation process," Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. "The CDC and the FDA are closely monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and if there is a cause for concern, they will take action because safety is paramount. This protocol should give all Pennsylvanians confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and individuals should proceed with getting vaccinated as soon as possible to fight the virus, particularly as our case counts rise."

The state health department said individuals who have appointments scheduled to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination should keep those appointments. If you are not aware of which vaccine type you are scheduled to receive, "be assured that effective immediately, providers will not be administering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine."

Philadelphia's collar counties are following those instructions on the same day all residents 16 and over became eligible for vaccinations in Pennsylvania outside the city.

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health announced Tuesday it will pause the use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at is vaccination clinics for the next two days.

"This pause will ensure the health care provider community is aware of the potential of adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot," the Montco OPH said.

Montgomery County's J&J vaccination clinics scheduled for April 13 and April 14 are suspended. Clinics distributing Pfizer will run on a normal schedule. The updated clinic schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

  • OPEN: Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell (2nd dose - Pfizer)

  • OPEN: Norristown Area High School, Norristown (1st doses - Pfizer)

  • CLOSED: Parkside Shopping Center, Willow Grove (between Planet Fitness and Rally House) (One dose - J&J)

  • CLOSED: Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale (One dose - J&J)

  • CLOSED: Bethel Community Church of Pottstown, Pottstown (One dose - J&J)


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

  • OPEN: Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell (1st and 2nd doses - Pfizer)

  • OPEN: Norristown Area High School, Norristown (1st dose - Pfizer)

  • CLOSED: Parkside Shopping Center, Willow Grove (between Planet Fitness and Rally House) (One dose - J&J)

  • CLOSED: Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale (One dose - J&J)

  • CLOSED: Bethel Community Church of Pottstown, Pottstown (One dose - J&J)


Anyone in Montgomery County with a scheduled appointment to receive the J&J vaccine for April 13 or 14 will be contacted via email to reschedule their appointment for a later date.

The Chester County Health Department is pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

"Our clinic at the Brandywine YMCA in Coatesville and the evening clinic at the Government Services Center in West Chester are the only clinics administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today. Those sites have transitioned to administering the Moderna vaccine for today, and the Health Department is contacting everyone who has an appointment for the vaccine at those locations, to offer the Moderna vaccine instead," the Chester County Health Department said Tuesday.

In Bucks County, officials had to close sites that were scheduled to deliver the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday.

"We're all waiting to see if there is some kind of connection with the vaccine or some kind of coincidence," said Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie.

Delaware County officials said they have paused the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine as directed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. There is no timeline as to when Delaware County will resume administering the J&J vaccine.

Delco officials said, "The County had been using the J&J vaccine for its homebound program and its homeless outreach program and will now be using the Moderna vaccine for these two programs. The J&J vaccine had been used at County's large-scale vaccination site at Delaware County Community College. The County will be temporarily relocating this site and will administer either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. People who have appointments at Delaware County Community College will be contacted with updated appointment information."

Delaware County residents who are at high risk and in Phase 1A and are having difficulty scheduling a vaccine appointment can contact the Delaware County COVID-19 Call Center: 484-276-2100.

New Jersey


New Jersey will follow federal guidance and put Johnson & Johnson vaccines on hold, the state's top health official said Tuesday.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said all of the state's vaccination sites - about 700 total, officials have said - will cancel or put appointments for the J&J vaccine on hold.

The pause in New Jersey comes just as the supply of J&J vaccines ebbs from more than 130,000 last week to 15,000 this week. Next week just 5,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine are expected, Persichilli said.

Along with the New Jersey sites, federally run mass vaccination sites will pause the use of the J&J shot.

In Camden County, health officials said the Moderna vaccine will continue to be provided at the Camden County Vaccination Center located at Camden County College; and both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will continue to be provided at the Kroc Center in Camden.

"Based on the current inventory of vaccines we will not need to reschedule any appointments, and all patients will receive either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine," the Camden County Department of Health said.

In Gloucester County, the mega-site will be holding all Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further notice.

"We are putting the safety of our residents first until the CDC and State confirm the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," said Gloucester County Commissioner Director Robert M. Damminger. "We are committed to safely vaccinating at the Gloucester County Mega Site and will continue to do so."

Individuals traveling to the Gloucester County Mega Vaccination Site will receive the Pfizer vaccine at the time of their appointment. If individuals would like to cancel their appointment, please do so by utilizing the link in your email from the New Jersey Department of Health.

Delaware



In a statement Tuesday, the Delaware Division of Public Health said, out of an abundance of caution, it is recommending the the state vaccine partners "hold off on using the J&J vaccine until the situation has been further assessed. The state will not use J&J at its vaccination sites until we receive further federal guidance."

The Delaware health department said it is unaware of any issues of blot clots in the state that may be related to this vaccine.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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