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State pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine

FILE - In this March 25, 2021 file photo, a box of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is shown in a refrigerator at a clinic in Washington state. A batch of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine failed quality standards and can’t be used, the drug giant said late Wednesday, March 31, 2021. The drugmaker didn’t say how many doses were lost, and it wasn’t clear how the problem would impact future deliveries. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Jackson County medical director confident local vaccinations will remain on track

The Oregon Health Authority said Tuesday that health providers should temporarily halt use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to federal reports of blood clots in six women, but Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County medical director, said it should not affect the local vaccine eligibility schedule.

The vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines administered during Jackson County’s efforts have been from either Pfizer or Moderna. As of Tuesday, 3,151, or 3.1%, of the 100,651 vaccine doses administered in the county were the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine, according to OHA data.

“We haven’t had to rely on Johnson & Johnson,” Shames said.

Statewide, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has accounted for 85,143 — about 3.7% — of the state’s 2,316,140 recorded doses, data show.

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the U.S. as of Monday, when the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration issued a news release about blood clots observed in the six women who had received the vaccine.

The women affected by the clots were between the ages of 18 and 48, the release said. Six to 13 days after vaccinations, they developed a rare and serious blood clot called a “cerebral venous sinus thrombosis,” along with low blood platelet levels, the release said.

The agency added that such effects appear to be rare right now.

“Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered,” the release said. “Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.”

CDC officials said they plan to review cases further Wednesday, with FDA reviewing the agency’s analysis.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the release said.

“This is an example of safety and oversight working,” Shames said of the pause and subsequent review. “We have a vaccine safety system, and it is clearly working, so I hope that helps people trust public health even more to do what needs to be done to keep the public safe.”

The pause also should not impact the planned “Pilot Community Vaccination Center,” that’s planned to open April 21 at The Expo, Shames added. The start date is two days after all Oregonians 16 and older become eligible for vaccination.

The center, intended to augment Jackson County’s walk-up clinic already in operation at the Padgham Pavilion building, will administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“I think we’re going to do fine going forward in terms of enough vaccine for shots in the arm,” Shames said.

The center is intended to support Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties, “an area of the state that was hard hit during last year’s historic wildfire season,” a Monday news release from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office said.

The initiative is the first of its kind in Oregon, a collaboration between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, OHA, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Jackson County Health and Human Services, and Jackson County Emergency Management. Operations are expected to run for eight weeks, according to Oregon Emergency Management official Bobbi Doan.

Visit jcorcovid19.org/VaccineAppointments to make an appointment or to see more information about eligibility.

Other local agencies administering COVID-19 vaccines include La Clinica, Rogue Community Health, and the Veterans Affairs Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics, as well as several local pharmacies.

Across the state, health officials recorded 29,395 new vaccine doses Tuesday, according to an Oregon Health Authority release. The number includes 19,831 doses administered Monday and another 10,104 administered on earlier dates but added to the state registry on April 12.

Statewide, the number of Oregonians who have received at least one vaccine dose is 1,447,624.

State health officials separately recorded 567 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday ― including 53 new cases in Jackson County.

The new cases brought Oregon’s latest case count to 171,398 and Jackson County’s case count up to 9,709.

Health officials separately recorded five new COVID-19 related fatalities, which brought the state’s death toll to 2,446. The latest fatalities included a 64-year-old Coos County woman, a 72-year-old Clackamas County woman, an 80-year-old Linn County woman, a 91-year-old Marion County woman and a 93-year-old Multnomah County man.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, officials were still in the process of confirming the presence of underlying conditions that contributed to the 80-year-old Linn County woman’s, and had confirmed there were underlying conditions that contributed to the other four Oregonians' deaths.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil. Reporter Nick Morgan contributed to this report.