Johnson & Johnson Vaccine on Pause in Maine

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Following recommendation from the U.S. CDC, the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine here in Maine has come to a halt.

County hospitals like Cary Medical Center had been administering this vaccine. Though reactions have been serious, health officials say they are extremely rare. Doctors here at Cary are telling people not to worry.

“I think what people really need to understand about this is that this pause is a good thing. The system we have in place for monitoring things that come to the market is working,” Dr. Regen Gallagher, Chief Medical Officer at Cary Medical Center said.

According to data from the US CDC and the FDA, a total of 6 people have experienced extremely rare blood clots, 6-13 days after receiving this vaccine. That is out of a total 6.8 million doses administered.

“What they saw were 6 patients who had cerebral venous sinus thrombosis or a clot in the veins of the brain,” Dr. Gallagher said. “As well as thrombocytopenia which is a low platelet count.”

In a briefing, Dr. Nirav Shah of the Maine CDC says symptoms such as, flu like symptoms, arm pain and fatigue are normal after receiving the one shot vaccine. However, “What we’re talking about today is not that,” Dr. Shah said.

“What we’re talking about today is something that happens anywhere from 6 days to two weeks after that shot. So, if you are within that window, of 6 days to two weeks and you have symptoms such as a severe headache, severe being the operative term,” Dr. Shah adds. “Some people describe it as one of the worst headaches of your life. If you have a severe headache or things like abdominal pain, shortness of breath, or leg pain, contact your healthcare provider.”

According to other hospitals in the county, Northern Maine Medical Center administered a total of 925 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Houlton Regional Hospital says they have given out 939 doses since the beginning of April. Cary Medical Center has given out 955 single doses.

As far as future clinics go, these three hospitals have cancelled any upcoming Johnson and Johnson clinics. They say they are working to contact people who had appointments scheduled. However, they must wait for more guidance from the CDC.

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