covid vaccine

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has halted administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine until further notice, following reports about several women who developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

“In an abundance of caution and as per federal guidelines, we are pausing vaccination with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine until further notice in Missouri,” DHSS director Dr. Randall Williams said in a written statement today (April 13). “We anticipate having more information shortly to make further decisions about overall vaccine distribution in light of this new development and will continue to update citizens who have been vaccinated with the J&J vaccine after the advisory committee meets at the federal level (on April 14).”

The DHSS announced the pause in administering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Missouri after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration released a joint statement today reporting that six people had a rare and severe type of blood clot after receiving the vaccine. According to the statement, all six cases of the cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) blood clot were seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets, known as thrombocytopenia, and in women ages 18 to 48. The women saw symptoms six to 13 days after receiving the vaccine.

As of Monday (April 12), more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered, the report said.

DHSS advises people who have received the vaccine and develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should reach out to a health care provider.

Communications specialist Brianne Zwiener said the Jefferson County Health Department has held two Johnson & Johnson clinics, one on March 8 and the other on Monday. She said more than a 1,000 doses were given at the March 8 clinic and fewer than 500 on Monday.

Zwiener said the Health Department has Johnson & Johnson doses left, but will not administer them. She said the Health Department will store the vaccine properly until DHSS or the CDC provides further instructions.

All Missouri adults are now eligible for two other COVID-19 vaccines – the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Missouri residents 16 or older may get the Pfizer vaccine and those 18 and older to get the Moderna.

The Health Department will hold several vaccine clinics this month in the building it recently leased at 1275 N. Truman Blvd. in Festus, which previously housed a Schnucks store and before that a Shop ‘n Save store.

Zwiener said appointments are needed for upcoming clinics. Appointments may be made by going to jeffcohealth.org or calling 636-789-8941 for help.

Comtrea, which also offers health care services around the county, has vaccine clinics scheduled this month as well. To make an appointment, go to comtrea.org/vaccine or call 636-232-2308.

Mercy also has created an online sign-up method to help distribute vaccines. To sign up with Mercy, go to mercy.net/MOVaccine. SSM Health has an online vaccine appointment site at ssmhealth.com/access/covid19-vaccine-scheduling.

Other hospital systems and pharmacies also are registering people for the vaccines. To find a local vaccine site, visit vaccinefinder.org.

COVID-19 stats

As of Tuesday, the county had a total of 22,660 COVID-19 cases since the first ones were reported in March 2020, the Health Department reported.

Of those cases, 1,343 were connected to long-term care facilities.

The county also has had a total of 236 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Health Department.

Health Department officials still urge residents to take precautions to curb the spread of the virus, like avoiding crowds, wearing masks in public, practicing social distancing and frequent hand-washing, and staying home when you are sick.

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