A recommended pause in the use of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines has been made after reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots.
Both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County health departments say that as of Tuesday, none of their vaccine clinics will be administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They say this decision was made out of caution for the community.
Both the CDC and FDA announced they are investigating unusual clots in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 after the Johnson & Johnson vaccines were administered.
"Until we know more, nobody is going to give any J&J vaccines until that is cleared off,” Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said.
In a statement, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Director Dr.Penny Borenstein said:
“Our goal is always to ensure that the vaccines are safe. We are focused on the health of our community and will continue to administer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at our mass vaccination clinic to fight and prevent COVID-19 disease."
To date, San Luis Obispo County has administered 2,200 J&J vaccines and Santa Barbara County has administered 12,500 of the vaccines with 6.8 million doses given across the U.S.
For those who have received the vaccine either months ago or just recently, health officials want to reassure the public this pause was made to take a closer look at the cases reported.
"This pause is just a precautionary measure to take a step back and look at the data and to make sure there is not a causal relationship that exists between the vaccine and this risk of blood clots,” said Dr. Scott Robertson, Marian Regional Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer.
"For someone who had it maybe a month or two ago, they ask, 'What does this mean for me?' It really doesn't mean anything. You are OK because if you look at the frame, the time frame when this occurs, it's pretty tight,” White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Health officials say the blood clots reported are occurring 6-13 days after vaccination.
For those who were given the J&J vaccine, health officials suggest contacting their doctor if they experience things such as a severe headache, abdominal pain or leg pain, and shortness of breath within three weeks.
Santa Barbara County public health officials say the pause won't generate a huge impact when it comes to vaccination efforts because the J&J vaccine was only about 5% of the total vaccine amount they were receiving.
The San Luis Obispo county health department says those who were scheduled to get the J&J vaccine will receive the Pfizer vaccine instead.
In Santa Barbara County, those who were scheduled will receive the Moderna vaccine instead.
"Fortunately, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine has been better tolerated, apparently, and much more available, too, so it shouldn't have such a big influence on our outcome,” Dr. Ansorg said.
In the meantime, vaccines will be stored in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties until further notice. The FDA commissioner says this pause is expected to last a matter of days.