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Pima County pausing Johnson & Johnson shots, for now
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Pima County pausing Johnson & Johnson shots, for now

The Pima County Health Department is temporarily pausing its distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The CDC has reported six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in U.S. citizens who received the J&J vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered nationwide.

The estimated risk of a blood clot from the J&J vaccine is about 1 in a million while the overall risk of dying if you get COVID-19 is about 1 in 100, said Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, associate professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona.

The county’s Health Department has given 24,600 doses of J&J vaccine since the first doses arrived here in early March, primarily through its mobile clinics. The county has not received any reports of adverse reactions.

So far statewide, 226,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been allocated with approximately 122,000 administered.

“While the occurrences of this rare blood clot are extremely rare compared to the number of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered nationwide, we are following the guidance of the CDC and FDA out of an abundance of caution and we will continue to work with our federal and statewide partners about the status of the vaccine,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and is one of the best tools we have to reduce the spread of the disease in Arizona. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Christ said.

Providers may still administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if they feel it is clinically appropriate after a discussion with their patient.

According to the CDC, all six cases of the blood clot cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should contact their health-care provider immediately.

Pima County will give the Moderna vaccine in place of the J&J vaccine for now, and there’s no expectation the county will need to cancel any appointments or vaccination events.

“Vaccines available today are safe and effective,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the county’s Health Department director. “And although out of an abundance of caution we have paused the use of J&J, we urge unvaccinated (people) to continue to keep getting vaccinated.”

Arizona health officials reported another 610 cases of COVID-19 and 19 related deaths on Tuesday, April 13, The Associated Press reported. Since the pandemic started, there have been 850,846 cases statewide and 17,100 known deaths.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at 806-7754 or

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