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Tribes stop using Johnson & Johnson vaccine after FDA and CDC recommend "pause"

Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 13, 2021

GREAT FALLS — Native American tribes in north-central Montana are responding to today's CDC and FDA recommendations that the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine temporarily stop being used. The reason for the "pause" is because it has been linked to blood clots in at least six people out of the more than 6.8 million who have received that version of the vaccine.

On Tuesday morning, the Little Shell Tribe was consulting with Alluvion Health, which has been helping the tribe administer vaccines.

The Rocky Boy Reservation recently got a shipment of the vaccine but did not plan to use it as of Tuesday. Instead, they plan was to hold the vaccines for possible use in the future.

The Blackfeet Tribe had been administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but public information officer James McNeeley said that won’t happen anymore as of Tuesday: “(Health officials) are not going to order any more and they are going to return
the remaining vials. They are aware of all of the side affects and they are preparing for anything that may happen.”

Any Blackfeet Tribe member who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and experiences unusual symptoms should call the Southern Piegan Health Clinic at 406-338-3680.

In accordance with Tuesday's CDC and FDA recommendations, Alluvion Health in Great Falls has also suspended use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and will only be administering Moderna vaccine at the walk-in Covid vaccination clinic that is scheduled for Thursday, April 15th.

This clinic is open to the public (ages 18 and older), and no appointment is required. It will be Exhibition Hall at Montana ExpoPark from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. People receiving a vaccination on Thursday will need to return on May 13th for their second dose.

Now that public health officials have recommended a pause in the use of Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, many who have already received one of the shots are wondering what they should do. As of Monday, more than 6.8 million people in the U.S. had already received a dose of the J&J vaccine, which is one-dose.

The FDA and CDC made the recommendation on Tuesday out of an "abundance of caution" as the agencies continue to review data involving six reported cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot in people who received the J&J vaccine in the U.S. In these six cases, a type of blood called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

Officials say all six cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, and their symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

For those have already received a J&J vaccine, officials say you should contact your heathcare provider if you develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.

Anne Schuchat, M.D., principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters Tuesday that people who got the J&J vaccine over a month ago likely aren’t at risk for blood clotting. During her remarks, Schuchat noted that the type of pain experienced would be “different” than the flu-like symptoms typically experienced after COVID-19 vaccines. She didn’t expand on how the pain would be different.

Health care providers are also being asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System by clicking here.