Thousands of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses on hold at local medical facilities

To date, officials have reported 6 cases of rare side effects out of more than 7 million doses administered

SAN ANTONIO – Vials of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, set to be administered in our community, are on hold as medical facilities wait for word from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Angela DiPaolo, vice president of operations for Legends Pharmacy, says about 450 preset appointments have been left on hold as they wait to see if the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be lifted.

She says that the single dose vaccine was popular with clients.

“Our long term care facilities are spread out throughout the state of Texas as far north as Sherman, all the way down to Brownsville,” DiPaolo said. “So, when you have one individual who’s traveling throughout the state giving vaccines, it’s easier to administer one dose instead of having to go back and administer two.”

U.S. authorities reported six cases of rare side effects that include blood clots. To date, more than 7 million people have received the shot.

Dr. Larry Schlesinger, president and CEO of Texas Biomedical, says that scientists will be busy looking at why this is happening and the question will be if there is a biological explanation for the side effects and are they linked to the vaccine.

“It is a form of vaccine that’s based upon a backbone of a virus, a cold virus that delivers the DNA of this protein, the spike protein into our cells.

And and that happens to be the same type of vaccine, not exactly the same as the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he explains, which has had similar issues in Europe,” Schlesinger said.

Dr. Ruth Berggren UT Health Professor and infectious disease expert says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was popular for those who have an allergy to mRNA vaccines. She said that the side effect appear to cause clots and bleeding for some.

“In these rare people, there seems to be an antibody that’s being produced that’s binding to platelets and causing platelets to clump and be cleared,” Berggren told KSAT. “So, you have low platelets and blood cloths.”

Berggren says those who have concerns should ask their primary care physician for a complete blood count with platelets blood test.

The hope is that this hiccup will not cause some to hold off on getting any vaccine.

“There was hesitancy on the Moderna and Pfizer and people were waiting for the Johnson and Johnson,” Dipaolo said. “So, now you know those who are waiting for the Johnson and Johnson for whatever reason, now they’re going to have reason to not want to get vaccinated at all.”

Also on KSAT:

About the Authors: