J&J vaccinations to resume in West Michigan in coming days

COVID-19 Vaccine

A sign at a Grand Rapids Walgreens encourages people to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (April 26, 2021)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Pharmacies are gearing up to give out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine again after it was shelved temporarily because of concerns about rare reports of blood clots.

As of Monday, 15 people across the country reported blood clots after getting the single-dose vaccine. Three people died. All of the cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48. Last week, federal health officials said the benefits of the vaccine still outweighed the risks.

Places like Walgreens and CVS announced Monday that they will again start administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. Some local health departments are still working to get doses out of storage and others are still deciding how to move forward.

“While it’s been unfortunate there have been some very rare cases of blood clots, we know the benefits far outweigh the risks,” Ottawa County Public Health Department spokesperson Kristina Wieghmink said.

She said her agency agrees with other state and federal health officials that the numbers show the risk of developing a clot is very low. Out of 7 million doses administered, only 15 people reported the clots.

After taking time to study the cases, health officials say it’s still safe for some women.

“Women or anyone who are concerned about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should consult their medical provider to get the best guidance on what may be the best vaccine,” Wieghmink said.

If you are still concerned about the J&J vaccine, you can choose a clinic that only offers Pfizer or Moderna.

“We put all confidence in the (Food and Drug Administration) and the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) making sure that it is safe and effective,” Wieghmink said.

Ottawa County says it will bring nearly 2,000 doses out of storage. Berrien County is doing the same. The one-shot J&J vaccine will be back in West Michigan clinics as early as next week.

J&J remains the only one-dose COVID vaccine. Health officials say that makes it instrumental in the vaccination effort, particularly for certain demographics, like those who are homeless or those who may be a little hesitant about getting inoculated.

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