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DeWine says vaccine pause will be short-lived

Some local clinics being rescheduled

Kent State University students get their COVID-19 vaccinations in Kent on Thursday. The nation’s largest traditional supermarket chain and some college campuses are among the Ohio providers that temporarily stopped using the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine Tuesday while federal officials investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. Kent State University said it was postponing its J&J clinics until further notice. AP

The problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 are “very rare” and the pause will “be short,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.

DeWine announced Tuesday the temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine came in response to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, following extremely rare, but severe, blood clotting of six women between the ages of 18 and 48 nationally receiving the vaccine.

At least 6.8 million people nationally, including 264,311 Ohioans, have received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

DeWine said White House officials described to him the pause “as days to weeks rather than weeks to months.”

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer, said: “These are truly rare events.”

He said he understands “there could be some hesitancy” to get vaccinated because of this. But, Vanderhoff added, “This should be reassuring that the medical field is watching this very closely.”

There shouldn’t be a vaccine shortage even with the Johnson & Johnson pause as there are enough Pfizer and Moderna inoculations, which are given in two doses, according to federal officials.

LOCAL IMPACT

The policy change forced the Youngstown City Health District to cancel vaccination clinics at Youngstown State University on Tuesday and at the Covelli Centre today and April 22, said Erin Bishop, health commissioner.

The city district has a Moderna clinic Thursday that is full, but has several openings Tuesday and April 21 at Congregation Rodef Shalom, 1119 Elm St. It has 1,140 Moderna vaccines available for those three clinics, Bishop said.

Go to covid19.youngstownohio.gov to schedule an appointment.

The Youngstown health department has administered about 1,300 Johnson & Johnson vaccines and has another 1,300 doses on hand, Bishop said. Those unused doses are being stored in freezers, she said, until guidance from the state as to what is to be done.

Bishop said she is concerned that some people will opt not to be vaccinated because of the isolated issues with Johnson & Johnson.

“How do you encourage people when this happens?” she said. “How do you convince them when you have a roadblock like this? It makes it harder. People who hate needles liked Johnson & Johnson. It was one shot. It’s another obstacle, but we’ve gotten through many.”

The Mahoning Valley’s mass vaccination clinic at the former Dillard’s department store at the Southern Park Mall in Boardman uses Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Appointments for Friday and Saturday were canceled. About 525 appointments had been scheduled for those two days.

The district has given about 2,800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the mass clinics.

Officials with Mahoning County Public Health, which oversees those clinics, said they are trying to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines from the state to continue the vaccinations next week.

Of 16 mass vaccination clinics throughout the state, four of them are closed this week — including the Valley’s — with the others getting Moderna or Pfizer doses right away. Also, of the eight public universities, four are getting a different vaccine this week while four others, including YSU, are not.

DeWine disclosed the list Tuesday, but didn’t explain why some are getting different vaccines while others aren’t.

Trumbull County Combined Health District is holding an open Moderna vaccine clinic 9 a.m. to noon today at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.

The Trumbull district was using Johnson & Johnson vaccines only for homebound residents, Johnna Ben, its administrative coordinator, said.

“We do not have any vaccine clinics coming up where this vaccine would have been used,” Ben said. “Additionally, since we were only using it for our homebound, this suspension will not impact our vaccine supply or any future clinics.”

Also, Mercy Health-Youngstown is continuing to provide Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at eight locations in the Mahoning Valley. It provides a few thousand doses per week and has done more than 56,000 inoculations overall.

All Mercy Health patients must preregister by calling 866-624-0366 or existing patients can sign up through the MyChart portal to get vaccine appointments.

COVID-19 DATA

The ODH reported 2,340 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday in the state, up from the daily average of 1,948 cases during the past 21 days.

The state had a total of 1,043,729 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday with 985,790 presumed recovered and 18,917 deaths.

The ODH provides death information only on Tuesdays and Fridays.

An increase of 90 deaths has been seen since Friday with none in Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties.

Mahoning County had 20,745 total COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday with 19,430 presumed recovered and 581 deaths, according to the ODH.

Trumbull County had 15,470 total COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday with 14,392 presumed recovered and 458 deaths.

Columbiana County had 8,507 total COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday with 8,085 presumed recovered and 225 deaths.

VACCINATIONS

Statewide, 4,160,582 people — or 35.59 percent of the population — had at least started the vaccination process as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, including 38,740 in the previous 24 hours, according to the ODH.

In Mahoning County, 36.65 percent of the population (83,805 people) had received at least one dose with 34.64 percent of the population in Trumbull County (68,585 people) and 29.79 percent in Columbiana County (30,349 people) as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to the ODH.

There were 2,705,814 people, 23.15 percent of the state’s population, who finished the vaccinations as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, including 61,755 in the previous 24 hours.

In Mahoning County, 25.21 percent of the population (57,652 people) had completed the process while 23.1 percent of the population in Trumbull (45,723 people) and 21.37 percent of the population in Columbiana (21,774 people) had as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.

dskolnick@vindy.com

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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