Arkansas is among states pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of people developing unusual blood clots. This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced they were investigating six cases of women who developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. One death was reported among the women.
At his weekly press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said while he respects the White House’s recommendation to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution, this doesn’t mean Arkansans should delay getting the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
“No one should delay getting a vaccination because of the pause on one part of the vaccination,” Hutchinson said. “We have the supply, currently, on hand in Arkansas to meet the demand needs of our state. No one should slow down and say, ‘Well because of this, I’m going to wait.’”
As for clinics that were scheduled to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Hucthinson said the state has enough doses of the other two vaccines to meet expected demand. Col. Robert Ator said vaccine providers that were going to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could experience a delay for about a day depending on when the mass clinic is scheduled.
“If they had an event that was going to happen today or tomorrow, there could be a slight pause while we get the new vaccine to them,” Ator said.
Hutchinson also acknowledged that this pause could enhance vaccine hesitancy within the state, a problem he has been vocal about in the past.
“I expressed that concern to the White House today,” Hutchinson said. “Whenever you say a pause, they need to evaluate this quickly because we want to make sure that people have access to all three vaccines that have been proven effective. It’s going to be a little bit more of a messaging challenge. We’ve got to rebuild any lack of confidence.”
Hutchinson urged people to still get the other two vaccines because Arkansas has followed other states, such as Michigan, in reaching a peak of new COVID-19 cases.
“If it comes, we can avoid that second peak by making sure we protect ourselves, but that puts us on the race to a vaccine,” Hutchinson said. “Get the vaccine. We need everyone to participate in this. Don’t delay, because we are in a race. We are in a race against time to get the vaccinations out before we start going up in our cases again. At least that’s the trend line we’ve seen in other states.”
Hutchinson said the Johnson & Johnson doses that are in inventory are being stored appropriately, and they won’t be wasted. He said if people who received the single-shot experience any strange symptoms such as leg pain, abdominal pain, or a severe headache, it should be reported to their doctor.