The FDA recommended putting a pause on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, leading the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to call for the suspension of using the shots statewide.
Missouri DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said all providers should stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least for now, out of an abundance of caution. The shots are being investigated for possible links to blood clotting issues in six people, one of whom died.
Missouri DHSS said providers should put “quarantine do not use” on a label and store it until further instruction.
Rogers Pharmacy in St. Joseph had received both the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna versions of the COVID vaccine. Rogers pharmacist Rex Robinson said the business has shifted to using its supply of Moderna only.
“We’ve had absolutely no issues with the vaccine itself up to this point. I think as of today we’ve given a little over 500 doses,” Robinson said. “The incidence of blood clots is very small. I think there are six cases and 6.8 million shots that were given. To put that in perspective, you have twice a greater chance of being struck by lightning,” Robinson said.
Robinson said he believes it’s unlikely anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have problems. State officials said in a news release that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after the shot should contact their healthcare provider.
“The J&J had its own following. There’s a lot of people that just didn’t want to get two shots ... it was kind of trending right now,” Robinson said. “It’s on pause, whether it comes back strong, whether they lay all the fears that people have with it, I don’t know, but we will continue with Moderna.”
Robinson said the pharmacy does not have control of which brand it gets from the state.