The state of California and San Mateo County are pausing their distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in line with federal advice that came on Tuesday. Five hundred doses in the county will be temporarily suspended this week.
The pause is the result of an announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration warning that six of the 6.8 million people who have received the vaccine also developed rare blood clots. According to the CDC’s announcement, one of the affected people, women between the ages of 18 and 48, has been hospitalized and another died. There is no evidence right now linking the vaccine to the blood clots, and the recommendation to pause injections is not a federal order.
In a press release, county Section Chief of COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Dr. Anand Chabra wrote that the county would also direct its partners to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
County Health Public Information Officer Preston Merchant said appointments for this week’s 500 doses will be switched to Pfizer or Moderna doses. According to the press release, just under 4 percent of all vaccines administered in the county so far have been manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.
The pause is set to cut into an already-low vaccine supply coming into the county this week, which received a few thousand fewer doses than expected. While Merchant said no appointments have been canceled so far, the county is reevaluating first-dose clinics based on decreasing supply. And as hundreds of thousands of more residents become eligible for vaccines on April 15, reduced vaccine supply is likely to severely limit the availability of local appointments.
But second dose clinics should not be affected, Merchant said. And on Tuesday, Coastside Hope Executive Director Judith Guerrero confirmed that this week’s second-dose clinic at Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church in Half Moon Bay is still on. Anyone who received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the church on March 24 or 25 will be able to return for a second dose between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. this Friday, April 16.
Guerrero noted that no appointments for the second dose clinic are needed, but residents should bring their ID, vaccination card and insurance if available. The vaccine is free and available regardless of insurance and documentation status.