HONOLULU (KHON2) — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine advisors failed to determine the fate of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday, April 14.
State health officials said they will not authorize the use of the shot until a decision is made.
The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) said they would hold on to the doses they have in stock until more information becomes available. Officials are urging residents to get their shots while reminding them that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still safe.
Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met Wednesday to discuss the future of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but did not come to a conclusion, sighting a lack of information.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration advised on Tuesday against using the one-shot vaccine after six cases of rare blood clots were linked to the vaccine. The CDC expects the ACIP to revisit the issue in the coming weeks.
In a statement, DOH said:
“The Department of Health appreciates the cautious approach the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is taking with regards to the COVID vaccine by Johnson & Johnson. While severe adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are extremely rare, safety is always our top priority. We will wait until the committee issues further recommendations. In the meantime we encourage everyone who is eligible to schedule a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna as soon as possible. We are in a race against the variants. It is a race we will win just as soon as enough people are vaccinated. Vaccination appointments are available at hawaiicovid19.com.”
Senate Health Committee chair Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole said, having to halt the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is “unfortunate,” but he agrees that safety is the primary goal.
“I think it’s important that we follow the guidelines of the federal government and the medical community. So if they say, we need to pause, then we need to pause,” Sen. Keohokalole said.
Keohokalole is one of more than 17,000 Hawaii residents who received the single-dose vaccine and said he is not worried about an adverse reaction.
“I got it before and I’d get it again if the doctors say that it’s safe to use,” Sen. Keohokalole said.
He hopes what is happening encourages people to get vaccinated
“Seven million people have taken the shot and six people have had an adverse reaction and we’re pausing utilization of the vaccine. I think that in and of itself, should show folks that there are very rigorous scientific and medical criteria that these vaccine manufacturers need to go through in order to get approvals in the United States,” Sen. Keohokalole explained.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, losing one of the COVID-19 vaccine options shouldn not impact the state too much.
“I would say it would take us an additional two weeks to get to herd immunity in our state because of small number of Johnson & Johnson shots that were planned to be a part of our mission,” Green said.
Green said, they can store the vaccine for up to three months.
According to the DOH, Hawaii will open vaccinations up to everyone on Monday, April 19, as planned, offering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.