'Could be this week': Local experts discuss the return of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

CDC and FDA to discuss vaccine Friday
Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 19:30:23-04

OMAHA, Neb. — The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused last week so rare blood clot cases connected to the vaccine could be investigated. One of those cases was right here in Nebraska. On Monday, health officials announced it's possible the vaccine will return to distribution this week.

During a Monday COVID-19 briefing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided updates on the now seven women and one man being investigated for blood clots after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"These have been a handful of cases, not an overwhelming number of cases. We are working through and adjudicating them and verifying whether they do in fact reflect a true case," Director of the CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Dr. Fauci and local experts believe distribution of the vaccine will most likely return this week with some limitations, after an advisory meeting panel on Friday.

Eight blood clot cases are being reported out of nearly seven million doses.

"That is a very, very rare event," Dr. Fauci said.

One of those cases is a 48-year-old Nebraska woman who is now hospitalized at Nebraska Medicine in critical condition. According to doctors, who described the case to the New England Journal of Medicine, they first found blood clots in the woman's abdomen. Later, more blood clots were found in her head. The woman eventually suffered from a stroke.

"We're obviously taking as good of care of this person as we obviously can," Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Dr. Mark Rupp said.

Dr. Rupp said while these cases are devastating, they are extremely rare. The fact that these cases are being properly investigated should be reassuring to the public. However, he understands the pause itself is enough to convince individuals already on the fence to not to get vaccinated.

"I think that trust is built and it's earned and I think we're earning that trust by going forward very prudently, very carefully with a great deal of transparency," he said.

Many Nebraska counties, including Douglas, have switched all Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments to Pfizer and Moderna. Spokesperson for the Douglas County Health Department Phil Rooney said the health department has enough supply of Moderna and Pfizer to continue all their vaccination efforts. In fact, they said they have enough supply to open all vaccination clinics to walk-ins very soon.

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