April 14, 2021

NJ, Local Officials Pause J&J Vaccinations

By Donald Gilpin

In accordance with Tuesday’s recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the state of New Jersey and the Princeton Health Department are pausing their administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccinations.

The CDC and FDA are investigating potentially dangerous blood clots in six women that occurred in the days after they received the J&J vaccine. Approximately seven million people have had the vaccine, including about 300 vaccinated by the Princeton Health Department.

“This temporary pause in administering the J&J vaccination is to provide the FDA and CDC with necessary time to evaluate and further investigate these rare cases, and craft further recommendations,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser.

He noted that the Princeton Health Department, which currently has 100 doses of the J&J vaccine that are being stored at the proper temperature, will not administer additional J&J vaccines until the CDC and FDA provide clear guidance on the next steps.

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) also announced Tuesday that it is suspending J&J vaccinations pending further guidance from federal health officials. All New Jersey vaccination sites have been told to put J&J vaccinations on hold until further notice.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday urged the 235,000 New Jersey residents who have gotten the J&J vaccination not to worry. No adverse effects similar to those reported elsewhere from the J&J vaccination have been seen in New Jersey, he said.

“It is important for residents to be aware that these six cases were among women ages 18-48, with symptoms occurring 6-13 days post-vaccination,” Grosser said. “If any residents have concerns on the vaccine or experience symptoms such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, they should contact their health care provider and the CDC Vaccine Adverse Emergency Reporting System (VAERS).”

Beginning Monday, April 19, all individuals 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Over the past several weeks the Princeton Health Department has focused on vaccinating vulnerable populations, including residents in the Spruce Circle, Redding Circle, and Holly House areas.

Individuals seeking vaccination must pre-register at covidvaccine.nj.gov. Registering at other COVID-19 vaccine locations (see covid19.nj.gov) may increase your chances of getting an appointment. Health care centers that are also offering the vaccine include Princeton Penn Medicine (princetonhcs.org), Hackensack Meridian (hackensackmeridianhealth.org), and RWJ/Barnabas (rwjbh.org).

A vaccinator call center at (856) 249-7007 can assist New Jersey residents 65 and older with registration and scheduling appointments.

As of Monday, April 12, New Jersey had administered 5,440,258 total vaccine doses, with 3,461,239 people with at least one shot, and 2,192,021 people fully vaccinated.

On April 12, the Princeton Health Department reported 10 new COVID-19 cases in the previous seven days for a 1.42 daily average, and 21 cases in the previous 14 days for a 1.5 daily average. The highest local totals for new cases were recorded in December with 39 for one seven-day period and 66 for the highest 14-day total.

Statewide, the 2,079 new cases reported on April 12 is the lowest number in five weeks, with the seven-day average for confirmed cases down 18 percent from a week earlier, but still up 8 percent from a month ago.

New Jersey’s transmission rate fell again on Monday to .94, a steady drop from 1.07 a week ago. Any number less than one indicates a declining transmission rate.

Grosser commented on the ongoing push to encourage residents to get vaccinated safely and to help the community work through this second year of the pandemic. “Princeton continues to closely monitor COVID-19 cases and trends within the community,” he said. “This is being performed on a daily basis by both the health officer and an epidemiologist who was contracted during the pandemic.”

He continued, “Rapid and effective distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a promising step towards decreasing COVID-19 cases and ‘flattening the curve,’ however it is important for residents to be mindful that vaccination, in conjunction with other prevention methods such as wearing a face mask and social distancing, all help towards mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Please continue to engage in these safety practices and connect with local health agencies to receive your vaccination.”