Local pharmacies change clinic plans after Arkansas suspends Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Health officials in Arkansas are suspending the use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and are urging pharmacies to do the same.

The Governor and Health Department are urging people to still get the Pfizer or Moderna Vaccine now.

“We recommend the CDC decision and the White House recommendation for a pause. We will follow the recommendations in Arkansas,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said.

There is a call for a pause following a joint statement from the FDA and CDC that said they are investigating blood clots in six women that occurred between six and 13 days after they received the single dose.

“We have confidence in the J and J vaccine, but it’s on pause to be sure on the treatment of getting an adverse reaction,” Hutchinson said. 

This is out of nearly 7 million who were given the J and J vaccine, none of the 6 women are in Arkansas.

“If the last year has taught us anything you’ve got to be on your toes every day,” Harmony Clinic Interim Executive Director, Hannah Voger said. 

One clinic in Little Rock planned on administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this Thursday but is adjusting following the news. Staff said they hope people will still get vaccinated.

“We kinda made this decision really quickly to give the Pfizer vaccine instead of the Johnson and Johnson,” Voger said. “We have a second clinic scheduled for the second shot on May 6th, if people can’t come back then they can go to the Pharmacy of Wellington at their convenience.” 

There is the worry that this could affect certain populations like the homeless or those who preferred the 1st dose.

“We have the supply currently on hand in Arkansas to meet the needs of our state – no one should slow down and say “because of this I’m going to wait.”

“Get the vaccine now,” Hutchinson said. “It is critically important.”

“I hope this would not make somebody not get the vaccine,” Voger said. “Obviously every vaccine, every drug has potential side effects.”

Hutchinson said all the vaccines they have are stored and will not go to waste during this pause.

Doctors with the health department said that if it’s been a month or more a person should be okay, but it’s the first two to three weeks they should keep an eye out and contact your doctor if you notice something.

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