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Out of an abundance of caution, Pima County is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health Services and temporarily pausing distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.
In an April 13 statement from the CDC, the agency reported six U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S.
The Pima County Health Department has given 32,800 doses Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, primarily at its mobile points of distribution and has received no reports of adverse reactions. The first shipments of the vaccine arrived in the county on March 4. The county will give the Moderna vaccine in place of the J&J vaccine and does not anticipate the need to cancel any appointments or vaccination events.
“Vaccines available today are safe and effective,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, Pima County Health Department Director. “And although out of an abundance of caution we have paused the use of J&J, we urge unvaccinated to continue to keep getting vaccinated.”
Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD, associate professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona, agreed.
“The estimated risk of a blood clot from the J&J vaccine is about 1 in a million,” Bhattacharya said. “The overall risk from dying if you get COVID-19 is about 1 in 100.
“Let’s say that there is a 10 percent chance that someone will catch COVID-19,” said Bhattacharya. “Then the overall risk for an unvaccinated person catching and dying from COVID-19 is about 1 in 1,000, which is about 1,000 times more likely than having a complication from the J&J vaccine.”
Pima County residents who received the J&J vaccine and have experienced symptoms of severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their primary care physician immediately.
The CDC administers an after-vaccination health checker program called V-safe that enables those who register to tell the CDC about any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Register through your smartphone here.
Click here to access the release from Pima County, which came out on Tuesday, April 13.