WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Regional Health Department’s vaccine program for homebound people is on hold while authorities look into reports that have tied the more easily transportable one-shot vaccine to exceedingly rare but severe blood clots, the mayor said Friday.

Earlier this week, the state Health Department suspended the vaccine’s use per a recommendation from the CDC and FDA after six cases of the rare blood clots were reported nationwide in women ages 18 – 48, who had taken the vaccine.

“The CDC and FDA have paused all J&J vaccine administration while they investigate several cases of severe blood clots after vaccination,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle in her COVID-19 update. “Unfortunately, this means that our homebound vaccination program is also on pause until the Health Department receives more information and further instruction.”

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Brindle said local health officials are exploring the possibility of obtaining an allocation of the Moderna vaccine to continue the department’s homebound vaccination program.

The CDC and FDA have both said the blood clots are exceedingly rare: six cases out of nearly 7 million inoculations given nationwide. Earlier this week, Dr. Stephanie Silvera, epidemiologist and professor in the Public Health Department at Montclair State University in a statement said that the rate of blood clots from the vaccine is less than one in a million.

“To put this in context, the risk of developing a blood clot for women on birth control is over 1,000 times higher than the risk of developing a blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine,” Silvera said.

The federal government has said there are no signs of similar clots after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna shots that are the mainstay COVID-19 vaccination programs in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

In Union County, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 319,297 total vaccine doses had been administered as of Friday and 122,542 people were fully vaccinated. This amounts to 22% of the estimated population of 556,341 people in the county. About 4% of the total doses were Johnson & Johnson shots, the data show.

By April 12, Union County’s vaccination teams at Kean University and in Plainfield had marked 50,000 total vaccinations, according to the county.

Click here to view statewide COVID-19 and vaccination numbers.

Starting Monday, April 19, people 16 and up become eligible for the vaccine as the state seeks to meet its goal of having 70% of New Jerseyans vaccinated by June.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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