Without J&J Vaccine, Summit County Still Has Enough Vaccines To Get Shots in Arms
The FDA announced a pause on the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week after six women reported blood clots.
Of the more than 1.8 million vaccines administered in Utah, 77,000 were the J&J vaccine. As of Thursday, there have been no reported blood clots linked to the vaccine in the state.
Summit County Health Department Director Rich Bullough said it’s likely the county's vaccine rollout won’t be affected by this pause.
"The one thing I want to add is that we've had very little J&J vaccine in Summit County," Bullough said. "And so it doesn't really affect our flow of vaccines. There were just a couple of sites that had J&J. And those were pretty modest, a modest number of doses. And so we've still got the vaccines we need. And we're still getting shots in arms."
This week, there were less than 5,000 doses of the J&J vaccine distributed to the entire state.
Bullough said partners that were supposed to receive shipments of J&J will mostly be receiving the Moderna vaccine after some shuffling. He said he was told the pause will probably be relatively short.
"My understanding is that part of the pause, or part of the reason for the pause was to in fact, make sure that clinical providers, physicians, etc. are aware that the treatments for these clots which include heparin, the treatment itself can be dangerous," he said. "And so I think that's part of the pause, not just to investigate the cases, but also to inform and educate the medical providers."
In addition to issues with J&J, the health department has another hurdle to overcome: vaccine accessibility. Bullough said they’re shifting their strategy with vaccinations as they try to reach more communities in the county.
"We're excited about that," he said. "This is a process we've anticipated all along. But we didn't really think we'd be here this soon. And so, you know, the news is really good."
Bullough said they are beginning to target barriers such as locations and clinic hours. And the health department is starting to look at new ways to approach vaccine hesitancy driven by culture and language.
He said the health department anticipates that by the summer things will begin to return to normal with the help of vaccines.
"It's really important, though, that people understand that the best way to normalize is to get vaccinated," he said. "And you know, that is if people are frustrated, if they don't want to wear masks, if they're frustrated that they are having difficulty gathering the family, extended family, they're looking forward to summer events, get vaccinated, that is your best protection."
As of Thursday, roughly 75% of adults in Summit County have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. To find more information on vaccinations in the county you can visit Summit County's Health page.