Kentucky pauses use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Published 5:36 am Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Kentucky temporarily halted using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, but suspending the single-dose shots shouldn’t slow the pace of inoculations in coming days due to the availability of other vaccines, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The Bluegrass State joined in pausing the J&J vaccine rollout as federal health agencies investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. Seeking to reassure Kentuckians who received J&J shots, Beshear said, “You’re going to be OK.”

“We’re going to work through this,” he said. “I think it’s going to be deemed safe and effective. But we’re going to pause until everybody knows how to treat … what appear to be very rare complications.”

Beshear and other governors participated in a call Tuesday with top federal health officials. The governors were told they should expect the J&J vaccine pause to last a few days or possibly a week. The message was that “it is likely not to be longer than that,” Beshear said.

The pause in using J&J vaccine comes a day after the governor set a benchmark of vaccinating 2.5 million Kentuckians to end capacity restrictions at most of the state’s businesses and venues.

The suspension “isn’t good news, but it is also not crippling news for our vaccination efforts,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference.

J&J doses represent a fraction of overall vaccines received by Kentucky, and the state has large supplies of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, Beshear said. That means people with canceled appointments for J&J shots in the next couple of days should be able to sign up in their area to receive their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as soon as this week, he said.
“We cannot let this slow us down,” the governor said. “And it shouldn’t slow us down.”

With incoming shipments of Pfizer and Moderna doses expected this week, “we ought to be able to make up any loss of appointments from J&J,” he added. Beshear stressed that the Pfizer and Moderna two-shot-regimen vaccines are “entirely safe” and “incredibly effective.”