NEWARK, NJ – The single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be indefinitely removed from Essex County vaccination sites after reports of blood clotting experienced in multiple patients around the country has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Federal Drug Administration reluctant to administer the vaccine further.
Although the J&J single-dose shot has been a vital resource in Essex County’s fight against the pandemic to address equitable access to the vaccine in the area’s underserved communities, particularly in seniors and minority residents, it will have to be halted until further notice at the county’s five major vaccination sites and mobile pop-up clinics.
“In an abundance of caution, we are following the CDC and FDA recommendation,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said. “Unfortunately, our mobile sites at churches, senior buildings, community centers, shelters, boarding homes and homebound residents will be rescheduled.”
Residents who have scheduled a J&J appointment at the county’s Kmart or Sears sites will now be offered the Moderna vaccine instead, and senior citizens who are being bused to sites to receive their vaccination also will receive the Moderna vaccine, according to DiVincenzo.
The decision from the county official comes as administering the J&J vaccine was paused statewide on Tuesday at all vaccination sites. The CDC and the FDA are reviewing data involving six reported cases - among nearly 7 million doses administered in the U.S. - in women between the ages of 18 and 48 who received the vaccine. Symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination, state officials said.
In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets, according to officials. Both the CDC and FDA have said that these adverse events are extremely rare. According to the FDA and CDC, individuals who have received the vaccine and develop abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, severe headache or other unusual symptoms within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
“All New Jersey vaccination sites have been told to cancel or put on hold appointments for the J&J vaccine until further notice,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “For individuals scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine, the department will work with all vaccination sites to make arrangements for the administration of an alternative two-dose vaccine. We will work with all sites, as needed, to reschedule vaccination appointments.
The department is planning to wait for further guidance from the federal government, according to Persichilli.
To date 12,500-plus doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in Essex County, officials reported.
Newark residents can currently register for a vaccine at any one of Essex County’s five operating vaccination centers.
The locations and the municipalities served at each site are as follows:
Essex County College, 303 University Ave., Newark (Gym entrance on West Market Street): Newark, Belleville, East Orange, Irvington and Orange.
Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. School of Technology, 498-544 West Market St., Newark: Newark, East Orange, Irvington and Orange.
Former Kmart building, 235 Prospect Ave., West Orange: West Orange, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Montclair, Newark, Nutley and Verona.
Livingston Mall, former Sears building, 112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston (Entrance is in the back): Livingston, Belleville, Maplewood, Millburn, Newark, Orange and South Orange.
Essex County West Caldwell School of Technology, 620 Passaic Ave., West Caldwell: West Caldwell, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Newark, North Caldwell and Roseland.
Residents can make appointments at www.EssexCOVID.org or by calling 973-877-8456. Vaccinations will be given in two doses. Residents making reservations to receive the vaccination will receive two appointments.