SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Bay Area public health departments have shelved doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine amid concerns raised by the Centers for Disease Control over rare blood clots.
One might think having to pull the J&J vaccines out of circulation would be disruptive, if not catastrophic. But with relatively few doses in the Bay Area, local officials are taking the pause in stride.
“The county system and other providers will pause the administration of the J&J vaccine,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s Testing and Vaccination Coordinator.
The CDC advised public health officials to temporarily halt Johnson & Johnson vaccines while it examined the cases of six women who developed serious blood clots in the days and weeks after receiving their shots.
The J&J vaccine has often been used to vaccinate vulnerable populations like the homeless because of its one-and-done, single shot.
Fenstersheib said more than 60,000 people in Santa Clara County have received the J&J shot. He says the county is developing a plan to contact them and advise them of potentially serious side effects.
“We certainly have utilized that one shot and done vaccine in places where it might be difficult to get people back. And since all of this just happened this morning, we are absolutely working to make sure we outreach to communities,” Fenstersheib said.
Homeless advocates say outreach and education is extremely important because the unhoused may not recognize the symptoms and often lack access to health care.
“Unless there’s a lot of information, and there’s a lot of care given to this, a lot of attention paid to it, there’s going to be people that may get the shot, develop symptoms and don’t know what it is,” said Pastor Scott Wagers, a homeless advocate. “And many people here (a homeless encampment) don’t even go to the hospital. I’ve seen it.”
The Bay Area’s stockpile of vaccine was not heavily reliant on Johnson & Johnson. Santa Clara County said they’re pulling roughly 13,000 doses. Alameda County is shelving nearly 4,000. Marin County had 1,200. But San Francisco, San Mateo and Napa counties each had 500 doses or fewer.