2021 | Coronavirus

Montgomery County to resume Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday

County had 1,500 doses stored, unsure when more will arrive

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Bethesda resident Vanessa Fontana Keszler receives her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccine site on Montgomery College's Germantown campus on March 31, 2021.

File photo

Montgomery County will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week after a pause while federal agencies reviewed a potential link to cases of rare blood clots.

Now that federal officials have cleared its use again, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — which requires only a single dose — will return to the mass vaccination site at the Montgomery College campus in Germantown.

The county stopped using the one-dose vaccine at its mass vaccination site and clinics on April 13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration called for vaccinators to halt using the drug while they investigated six cases of rare blood clots in women between the ages of 18 and 50.

Since then, a total of 15 cases of the blood clots — thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome — have been reported. None have been in Montgomery County.

About 8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered.

When the county temporarily stopped using the J&J doses, the county stored 1,300 doses of the vaccine for the mass vaccination site in Germantown and about 284 doses for county clinics.

The county will resume using J&J vaccines at its mass vaccination site at Montgomery College on Monday. Officials have already started using the vaccine again for homebound vaccinations.

County officials do not know when they will receive J&J vaccine doses in shipments from the state again.

According to the CDC, women younger than 50 years old “should be aware of the rare but increased risk” of the blood clots that the reports have suggested follow use of the J&J vaccine.

Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer, said during a briefing on Wednesday that if people have concerns about the vaccine, they should speak with their medical provider.

“It’s cause for concern when you do see the report of those cases. … But there were over 8 million other folks who received the [J&J] vaccine,” he said. “I would imagine probably 60% of those have been women so far as women have been outpacing men in terms of getting the vaccines. The overwhelming majority did not have those complications.”

If people still have concerns about the vaccine after seeking advice from their medical providers, they can stick with either of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, Gayles said.

People who receive the J&J vaccine should watch for symptoms of a blood clot over the three weeks following inoculation. Those symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision, and easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site.

If anyone develops one or more of those symptoms within the three-week timeframe, they should immediately seek medical care, according to the CDC.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.