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Kansas City COVID-19 vaccine clinics await guidance on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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Posted at 4:54 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 18:11:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patty Ludlow participated in the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trial last December and later learned that she received the vaccine, not a placebo.

"My personal perspective is, I would rather take the risk and potentially have some side effects," Ludlow, a Prairie Village resident, said. "I totally understood I didn't know exactly what would happen, but versus the chance of getting COVID, I thought the risk around getting a vaccination was lower."

Amid reports that six people who received the single-dose vaccine developed blood clots, Ludlow said she doesn't regret her decision.

"That's why I wanted to participate in the trial - to be able to contribute to that [research]," Ludlow said. "They take blood work and continue to study it and continue refine it and hopefully make more advances."

Several clinics and hospitals around the Kansas City metro, including the Kansas City VA Medical Center, pivoted and have started using other forms of the vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have recommended – not mandated – a "pause" in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a precaution.

The VA planned to use J&J, but will now use Pfizer. There are enough Pfizer doses for its Tuesday and Thursday clinics this week.

“Those scheduled for Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) will be offered Pfizer vaccine or rescheduled to a later clinic," the VA said in a statement. "We will provide additional information as we learn more."

The VA and other clinics will wait for guidance from the CDC, and it's their understanding that more information will come in a matter of days and weeks rather than months.

"In the cases that have occurred, none have occurred beyond two weeks after having received the vaccine," Dr. Mark Steele, executive chief clinical officer with Truman Medical Centers, said. "So if you received the vaccine several weeks or months ago, then there's nothing to worry about."

Steele said the CDC made its decision out of an abundance of caution.

"I would encourage people not to jump to any conclusions," Steele said. "We don't know any of these cases are directly related to receiving the vaccine or whether or not they're naturally occurring. So that's some of the info the FDA and CDC is going to dig into."

Steele said the CDC's response means the system is working and that safety is a priority.

Similar complications have not been reported with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it still hopes to have vaccine doses available for every American adult by the end of next month.