How Michigan vaccinators are handling the J&J vaccine pause

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Michigan, vaccinators have another challenge to surmount: the CDC and FDA's advised hold on the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. 

The CDC and FDA on April 13 recommended the U.S. pause use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine while they review six reports of rare and serious blood clots in people who've received the shot. 

Michigan receives a weekly allotment of 17,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The state has agreed to suspend administration of the vaccine in cooperation with the agencies' recommendation, according to the Detroit Free Press, which reports that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state health officials learned about the agencies' recommended suspension of the vaccine at the same time as the general public. 

So where does that leave vaccination efforts in the state with the highest COVID-19 case rate in the country? [515.8 per 100,000 people as of April 12, according to the CDC

Several counties are swapping their Johnson & Johnson shots out and tapping into their Moderna and Pfizer supply instead to continue vaccination efforts as planned. 

Detroit was ready to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to residents at eight locations as part of its Neighborhood Vaccine Week, which began April 12. City officials say they will instead administer Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, and anyone with a vaccination appointment this week should still honor it, according to ABC affiliate WDIV Local 4

Oakland County, the state's second largest, was set to host a Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic at Oakland University in Rochester April 13. The clinic is still on — but vaccinators will administer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine instead.

Other cities and counties are canceling appointments, according to Fox 2 Detroit. The city of Warren is canceling a vaccine fair set for April 15-17. In Washtenaw County, the health department is postponing one clinic today at Eastern Michigan University and two clinics scheduled for April 14 at Concordia University and Eastern Michigan University.

The vaccine's shelving has the governor doubling down on calls to President Joe Biden's administration to deploy more vaccines to hot spots like Michigan. The government has sent more vaccination resources to the state, but not vaccines.

"With this latest development, it's more important than ever for the federal government to implement a targeted strategy that allocates additional Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to hotspots like Michigan to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," Bobby Leddy, press secretary for the governor, told Detroit Free Press. "Gov. Whitmer will continue fighting for the vaccines we need to protect Michiganders, so we can get back to normal as soon as possible."

On April 12, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said Michigan cannot rely on COVID-19 vaccinations alone to rein in rising cases and hospitalization, and urged for shutdown measures


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