MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccinations are back on after the federal government lifted an 11-day temporary pause Friday. The one-dose vaccine was paused over concerns about rare blood clots. The vaccine will now come with a warning label about the side effects, but local officials echoed federal leaders, saying the benefits outweigh the risk.
“You have better odds of being struck by lightning,” said UW Health Chief Quality Officer Jeff Pothof.
The message from health officials is that the vaccine is safe, and people should feel comfortable getting the Johnson & Johnson shot.
“We don’t have a significant concern about that Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Pothof explained.
The one-dose shot was paused earlier in April when 15 women developed rare blood clots. The vaccine will now come with a warning for women under 50.
“For people who are concerned about that, it’s possible they will seek out Pfizer, Moderna,” Pothof said, but he explained that can be difficult because providers do not always know ahead of time which vaccine will be available on the day of someone’s appointment.
Pothof added some people still want the one-dose shot.
“They’re busy, they don’t have much time they can take off of work,” he said.
Now, health care providers are gearing up to start administering Johnson & Johnson doses again. Many still have some doses on the shelves.
“We have about 2000 doses still with us at SSM left over from the previous allocation before the pause, so it is available, ready to use it,” said Mo Kharbat, SSM Health Vice President of Pharmacy Services. Kharbat echoed Pothof, saying SSM has received calls from people who have been waiting to get the Johnson & Johnson shot.
Ian Hedges, CEO of the free clinic HealthNet of Rock County said HealthNet had been administering the vaccine before the pause, and is working to get leftover doses ready.
“They only need to be refrigerated, they don’t need to be frozen at very, very cold temperatures,” Hedges explained.
Hedges said HealthNet used the one-dose vaccine at several community events and the Rock County jail without seeing side effects.
Officials said the most important thing is that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective, and more shots in arms means everybody wins.
“Right now, it is most important to get vaccinated,” Hedges said, adding, “An infectious disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States can only be stopped in its tracks if we all get vaccinated, and sometimes that means getting the first shot that we can get access to.”
SSM Health said they could begin administering Johnson & Johnson within a few days.
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