Local providers prepare to resume Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations

MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Vaccine providers expect to resume giving Johnson & Johnson vaccines after the CDC lifted the pause on the one-dose shot.

Officials from Pennsylvania's and New Jersey's health departments say they have notified vaccine clinics about the new guidance and updated fact sheets warning of rare but serious blood clots.

When Leza Fullerton of Drexel Hill, Delaware County, got her Johnson & Johnson shot weeks ago, she was happy.

"I wanted to go that route. Fast and done," Fullerton said.

Then came the 10-day pause from the CDC after rare cases of blood clots in women emerged after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Fullerton says she would still get the same shot.

"There's a risk in everything. I overcame that risk, and now the bigger risk is off the table. So I'm pleased," she added.

On Friday, an advisory panel told the CDC it recommended lifting the pause, deciding the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

The CDC followed suit hours after the vote, telling states they may resume use.

Many local agencies sitting on Johnson & Johnson vaccines are anxious to start using them again.

"The J&J is really helpful for these drive-through clinics, doing the single dose. And then there's a lot of people in the community that really want the single-dose vaccine," said Delaware County COVID Taskforce director Rosemarie Halt.

Halt says the county plans for a J&J clinic May 1-2 at Delaware County Community College in Marple Township.

But Action News found plenty of people who aren't ready to roll up their sleeves for the J&J shot.

"It's kind of concerning because it's also a short time that we've actually had a chance to have any research about the vaccine completely," said Charlene Fischer of Aston.

She says she may get Pfizer or Moderna, but definitely not Johnson & Johnson.

"I'll be honest with you, it scares me that they even halted it due to these blood clots and everything," said Janice Aruffo of Havertown, Delaware County.

Action News spoke with Dr. Richard Jermyn of Rowan Medicine, who has been administering J&J to the homeless in New Jersey.

He stressed the vaccine is safe and effective, but he is glad more information will be issued about the rare blood clots.

"Should you get the vaccine and you're worried about, 'Well, am I going to have these kinds of side effects?' So I think it's important that people look for them and then know what to do," said Jermyn.

Jermyn says in many cases, the side effects are treatable, especially if warning signs like severe headache and tiny red spots under the skin are spotted early.

The New Jersey Department of Health said Friday it was notifying vaccine clinics about the new FDA fact sheets going out, so they may resume giving J&J.

A spokesperson for the City of Philadelphia also said Friday evening the city plans to follow the CDC directive.
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