Lexington will start using the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine again this week after the federal government recommended the vaccine was safe to start using again.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Monday announced it would switch back to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the pause forced the health department to cancel a clinic scheduled for April 16. The health department’s weekly clinic resumed last week with a different vaccine type.
On April 13 the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked vaccine providers to halt the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a small number of vaccine recipients suffered blood clots. But on Friday both agencies lifted their recommended pause.
“We have concluded that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, said in a statement. “We are confident that this vaccine continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness and quality.”
The FDA urged people with questions or concerns about the vaccine to discuss those issues with their doctor.
The next Lexington health department clinic is scheduled for Thursday
“With the vaccine being approved at the federal and state levels, we feel confident about returning to use of the Johnson & Johnson … vaccine in our community clinics for Lexington,” health department spokesman Kevin Hall said.
It’s possible the pause could have a negative impact on vaccine hesitancy. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last week found that only about 22 percent of unvaccinated Americans were willing to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“We will continue to gauge the community’s interest in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Hall said. “We understand the concerns but hope the community also listens to the reports from the CDC saying it’s safe.”
The CDC and FDA were adamant about the safety of the vaccine in their joint statement released Friday.
“We identified exceptionally rare events – out of millions of doses of the Janssen COVID-19 administered – and we paused to examine them more carefully,” said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the CDC director. “As we always do, we will continue to watch all signals closely as more Americans are vaccinated.”
Thursday’s health department clinic will also feature a change of location. Previous clinics were held at Consolidated Baptist Church, but the next clinic will be hosted at the Southeast Lexington Center. The clinic was scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Appointments could be scheduled at lfchd.org/vaccine, but walk-ins were going to be accepted too.