Berkeley, 8 Bay Area counties resume use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

photo of someone holding a vile of the covid-19 vaccine
Lisa Ferdinando/DOD/Creative Commons
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the ban on the vaccine, the city of Berkeley and eight other Bay Area counties are issuing the vaccine. ((Photo by U.S. Secretary of Defense under CC BY 2.0.)

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The city of Berkeley, Alameda County and seven other Bay Area counties issued a joint statement April 25, lifting the pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that was issued earlier that month.

This development came days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, lifted its nearly two-week ban on the use of the vaccine, which had been linked to an increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, a rare kind of blood clot, for women under the age of 50, according to a CDC press release.

The decision to allow the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be administered was followed by the announcement that UC Health had issued 1 million vaccines as of April 26.

“According to the CDC, to date there have been only 15 confirmed cases of the rare clotting event among nearly 8 million total doses administered in the USA,” the Bay Area county press release said. “For those who have a confirmed case of COVID-19, the risk of dying from it in the United States is 1 in 56.”

The decision to continue the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is part of the city’s current plan to vaccinate its population. As of Sunday, more than 110,000 Berkeley residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 48,340, or 46% of residents 16 years old or older, have been fully vaccinated, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The city now has enough vaccines that every adult can make same-day appointments. This includes people who are not city and county residents, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. Health officials are working with community organizations to vaccinate hard-to-reach groups.

“UCH teams have administered vaccinations across the state at a variety of sites using vaccine doses distributed by state and county public health departments,” said UC Office of the President spokesperson Heather Harper in an email. “This work has happened at UC hospitals and at community locations in partnership with public health authorities and non-profit organizations. UCH is using all three vaccines approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Although health authorities emphasize the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Bay Area health officers still voiced their support of providing warning labels and informational materials.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one part of the city’s broader vaccination program, according to Chakko.

“J&J has been a very small portion of our supply. Before the pause, J&J had accounted for only 333 of the nearly 73,000 doses administered by the City and its partners,” Chakko said in an email. “The fact that it’s a one-dose vaccine with easier storage requirements will make it an important part of our outreach.”

David Villani is a schools and communities reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @davidvillani7.