Coronavirus

Coronavirus

KANKAKEE — COVID-19 vaccinations are projected to not slow down in Kankakee County this week while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is put on pause, according to Kankakee County Health Administrator John Bevis.

The county was already slated to receive a reduced amount of Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week because of a manufacturing problem. Illinois has supplanted those doses with Pfizer and Moderna doses so that the allotment remains consistent, Bevis said.

“In the immediate future, it wasn’t going to impact us,” Bevis said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food & Drug Administration released a joint statement Tuesday recommending use of the Johnson & Johnson be paused “out of an abundance of caution” to investigate cases of rare and severe blood clots found in six women who received the J&J vaccine.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices held an emergency meeting Wednesday to review the blood clot cases and assess their potential significance. It made an announcement following the meeting that the pause would continue for at least a week.

Earlier in the day, Bevis had said, “This could impact some of those events that [AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital] were planning to have maybe next week or two weeks out moving forward if this pause continues.”

More than 6.8 million Johnson & Johnson had been administered in the U.S. as of Tuesday.

U.S. federal distribution channels suspended use of the J&J shot following the statement along with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), which provides vaccines to the Kankakee County Health Department.

The rare blood clot, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) in women between the ages of 18 and 48, according to the CDC and FDA. Symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

The CDC and FDA recommend people vaccinated with the J&J who are experiencing symptoms like severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health-care provider.

“I would suggest if anyone has any concerns, they should reach out to their physicians and let them know that they had recently been vaccinated,” Bevis said.

Kankakee County used the J&J vaccine for just over two weeks. The health department received 3,300 doses in total, approximately 2,050 of which were used by the National Guard mass vaccination sites last week and 1,200 used jointly by the health department and AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital in drive-thru clinics in Bourbonnais.

The 50 unused doses leftover from last week’s National Guard clinics have been marked as “not to be used” by the health department and are being kept in refrigeration until further notice, Bevis said.

Statewide, only 17,000 Johnson & Johnson doses were to be distributed this week, according to IDPH. The state said it expects to receive 5,800 Johnson & Johnson doses out of 483,720 total vaccine doses next week, or less than 2 percent of the total.

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Meredith Melland earned a BA in journalism from DePaul University, where she worked as a web developer and editor for 14 East, DePaul's online student magazine. She has interned for Chicago magazine and WGN. Her email is mmelland@daily-journal.com.