WEST MICHIGAN — West Michigan's local health departments, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office, are responding to the FDA's recommendation to "pause" the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine after reports of rare blood clots.
Office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:
“The safety and health of Michiganders will always come first," Whitmer's office said in a statement. "We will follow the FDA’s guidance to temporarily pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution, and adapt our vaccine strategy going forward until a further review of the data can be conducted. With this latest development, it’s more important than ever for the federal government to implement a targeted strategy that allocates additional Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to hotspots like Michigan to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Governor Whitmer will continue fighting for the vaccines we need to protect Michiganders, so we can get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Kent County Health Department spokesperson Steve Kelso told Fox 17 the department will be pausing the use of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine, per the FDA's new recommendation.
County health officials are still discussing what impact the decision will have on vaccination efforts.
Calhoun County, which had planned to use the J&J vaccine during a walk-in clinic in Albion on Tuesday, will instead administer first doses of the Pfizer vaccine at its walk-in clinics "until more information is available."
A spokesperson told Fox 17 that Muskegon County health officials are "definitely" following the recommendation to pause use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine.
4,221 doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered to Muskegon County residents as of Tuesday morning.
Ottawa County's health department will follow suit and suspend the use of J&J's vaccine.
“We have canceled all Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinics until the FDA and CDC can ensure us of vaccine safety,” said Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. “We have notified our vaccination partners and healthcare providers to increase situational awareness. Ottawa County COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, so we encourage everyone to continue to pursue COVID-19 vaccination opportunities of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine that are still available.”
The Berrien County Health Department will not be providing the J&J vaccine until further notice because of the new recommendation.
The previously planned J&J clinic on Thursday, April 15 will be switched to use the Moderna vaccine with a second dose return date of May 13. All individuals with scheduled appointments for this week’s clinic will be contacted and notified of the change in vaccine product being used.
“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare, and there have not been any reported adverse events reported in Berrien County after the administration of the J&J vaccine,” said Nicki Britten, health officer at the Berrien County Health Department. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for all vaccine providers, and we are assured that the data is being reviewed swiftly by the experts.”
The Allegan County Health Department says it is pausing all use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
“We will pause all use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and replace with Pfizer and Modera vaccines until the FDA and CDC complete the investigation process regarding reports of blood clots after receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Allegan County Health Officer Angelique Joynes said. "While adverse events are extremely rare, vaccine safety remains to be our highest priority.”
ACHD had intended to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at an upcoming clinic on Sunday, April 18. This pause also includes redistribution of vaccine and plans for mobile clinics.
The pause does not affect Pfizer's or Moderna's vaccines.
The Ionia County Health Department's Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic scheduled for Thursday, April 15 has been changed to a Moderna first dose clinic.
Those who do not want the Moderna vaccine may call the health department at 616-527-5341 to cancel their appointments.
Existing appointments will be kept for others willing to receive the Moderna vaccine.
The health department says it will attempt to call those who have signed up, but may not be able to reach everyone before Thursday.
Van Buren/Cass County:
The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department says it will temporarily discontinue administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until more information is known about the vaccine.
They tell us the vaccine clinic at the Covert Fire Department will operate Friday, April 16 as planned and will administer the Moderna vaccine. They say the same goes for the clinic at Midwest Energy & Communications in Cassopolis on the following day.
This is a developing story. More statements will be added as they become available.