Health & Science

Harris County Won’t Continue Its Use Of The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine For Now

In a statement to Houston Public Media, Harris County Public Health said they’ll continue to use the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the time being, but did not provide a reason as to why.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have lifted their recommendations to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, shown here in a hospital in Denver.

Updated 6:20 p.m. CT Tuesday:

Harris County vaccination sites will continue operating without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the time being, according to Harris County Public Health.

Administration of the vaccine was paused earlier this month after federal agencies reported that six women had developed rare blood clot disorders after getting the shot.

The CDC and FDA lifted the pause Friday, determining that the "potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks," according to the CDC's website.

In response to the initial pause, the NRG park vaccination site switched to the Pfizer vaccine, while other county-run sites began using Moderna — both 2-dose vaccines. Harris County Public Health says the sites will continue to operate this way for the foreseeable future.

"At this time Harris County Public Health (HCPH) does not have a timeframe to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," HCPH wrote in a statement to Houston Public Media. "Currently, residents who sign up for the NRG vaccine site will receive the Pfizer vaccine and residents who sign up for all other HCPH sites will receive the Moderna vaccine."

Pressed for more details, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wrote Tuesday that the county will resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the near future, and plans to give recipients the option to choose which vaccine they want to receive.

“We do intend to resume J&J vaccine very shortly, but we're working on an option to ensure that residents will have a choice in which vaccine they can receive,” the statement read.

The statement added that the county has an ample supply of Pfizer and Moderna, so efforts to vaccinate the community should continue unhindered.

The Houston Health Department has said they will follow the guidance of federal health agencies and resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

"The Houston Health Department will follow the guidance of the CDC and FDA to resume use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine,” wrote in a statement Monday. “The department currently has only about 300 doses in stock and anticipates resuming use of the vaccine for its in-home vaccination program this week."

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was being used by both the city and county to reach underserved communities, due to the added convivence of a one-dose shot.

Allison Winnike, president and CEO of the Immunization Partnership, said she expected the county to eventually resume its use, due to its importance in vaccination outreach.

“I would very much expect that they would resume it in the future, perhaps after they’ve exhausted their current supply of Pfizer and Moderna,” she said. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it really is critical to those mobile unit and community vaccination efforts.”

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