Johnson & Johnson pause won’t affect Houston’s supply of vaccines, city officials say

Officials said the pause of the J&J vaccine won't stop the supply

Houston – Officials from Harris County and the city of Houston stressed Tuesday a recommended pause in the distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine won’t affect supply, for now.

“Right now, there’s a minimal impact because there are minimal amounts of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In fact, right now, the city of Houston Health Department basically has none or almost none,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer.

The official count from the city’s health department was 300 doses of Johnson & Johnson among the city’s supply.

“We have a very limited supply of J&J already within our supply system, and so we are switching over to Moderna. We primarily would use in the city Pfizer and Moderna. So, we don’t anticipate having to cancel any scheduled appointments for this week,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

County health officials also said there’s enough supply of Moderna and Pfizer to fill the void Johnson & Johnson left behind.

“The good news is that with the help of the state and with the help of the federal government, we’ve been able to secure enough Pfizer and Moderna doses to make up that gap,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

The county had planned to distribute 42,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson this week, for what would have been the primary vaccine offered.

Harris County has 61,000 doses in storage, which will stay there until the federal government advises further. The same goes for the city.

“This is extremely rare,” said Persse, referring to the risk of blood clots, as acknowledged by the CDC and FDA as the reason for the temporary halt.

“Six cases out of 6.8 million doses have been given, so it’s extremely rare. That’s literally less than one in a million,” Persse added, stressing the importance of people continuing to be vaccinated.

Judge Hidalgo agreed, adding the greater risks are infection and hospitalization.

“The virus isn’t going anywhere unless we go and get vaccinated,” Hidalgo said.

“I understand the concern. Even in the rarest of cases, it’s scary. So, folks who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, your chances of having these symptoms — these impacts are tiny, minuscule,” Hidalgo continued.

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Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.