SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Sacramento County said it will provide Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) doses for previously schedule appointments at local clinics amid a report that six women in the U.S. developed rare and severe blood clots after receiving the Janssen vaccine.
“If you have been confirmed for an appointment using Johnson and Johnson, your appointment has been automatically switched to use Pfizer instead," a Sacramento County spokesperson said in a press release. "No action is necessary on your part.”
The pause comes just days before all California counties can open up vaccine eligibility to people aged 16 and over.
The change will occur at several county clinics including the Tuesday clinic at Luther Burbank High School in South Sacramento, though the county said the Moderna vaccine may be provided at this clinic in addition to the Pfizer vaccine. People do have the option to cancel their appointment if they do not want to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in lieu of the single-shot J&J vaccine.
Dr. Rusty Oshita, owner of Urgent Care Now and leader of the vaccination clinic at Luther Burbank High School says they didn't want to cancel the clinic on such short notice in one of Sacramento County's hardest hit neighborhoods, so at about 5 in the morning, they scrambled to come up with a plan B.
"We had to pivot and beg, borrow and plead to get our Pfizer vaccine which we will be delivering today which means that number one, that's a different draw method, a little bit more labor intensive and also means that we need to have a three week follow-up appointment," Oshita said.
Meaning, 2,500 Pfizer doses were taken from Sacramento County's allocated pool that were set aside for upcoming clinics. While it's not clear if that might change anything or cause cancellations for those future Pfizer clinics just yet, the county said they do expect demand to outpace the vaccine supply.
"Right now, the county and Dr. Kasirye and Rachel Allen are shifting doses from one dose to the next and really just tightening up the ship to all doses that are out and available," he said.
People getting the vaccines were notified via email and text first thing in the morning about the switch and everyone was given the option to cancel, but it didn't stop the long lines from showing up.
Officials told ABC10 that about 35% of the appointments for this location were canceled at the last minute so they opened it up to walk-up appointments for the last three hours of the clinic to give away most of their leftover vaccines.
The county has also canceled 800 J&J vaccination appointments for April 13 and 14. Anyone impacted by the cancelation can expect a link to the Sacramento County vaccine web page for scheduling an appointment for a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
The county's supply of Moderna and Pfizer will be used this week, however health officials are expecting demand to outpace supply.
Other counties are also determining the best course of action after the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration recommended putting a 'pause' on J&J vaccine doses.
At Stockton Arena, a spokesperson told ABC10 that, "All scheduled appointments (1000+) today will proceed as planned with alternate vaccine supply," but did not specify which vaccine would be used instead.
"We will only cancel existing vaccine appointments if no other COVID-19 vaccine is available," Kaiser said in a statement to ABC10. "Depending on its duration, we expect this pause to decrease vaccine supply and the number of vaccine appointments we can offer. We will continue to do everything we can to administer as many doses of COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible."
San Joaquin Public Health Services, however, said that it would be providing partners with additional doses of Moderna and Pfizer so that vaccinations can continue.
"The goal is to not cancel or postpone any appointments due to the pause, rather supplement the supplies with on hand vaccine," a spokesperson with the county said in a statement.
Stanislaus County said in a statement that all administration of the vaccine is paused at this time, but that the county will continue to provide updates on vaccine efforts. Stanislaus County is similarly switching vaccines.
"At this time, all Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinics in Stanislaus County will continue as planned with Moderna vaccines," a county spokesperson said in a statement.
Sutter Health will also be pausing use of the J&J vaccine, the hospital confirmed on Tuesday.
"We are currently contacting patients scheduled for J&J vaccine today to cancel their appointments, and where possible will reschedule them with a different vaccine," a spokesperson said in a statement to ABC10. "Due to supply constraints, patients scheduled for J&J this week may need to be placed on a standby list and rescheduled as additional Moderna and Pfizer are made available to us."
Yolo County is also pausing J&J vaccines, a spokesperson with the county saying, "This pause on J&J is out of an abundance of caution as research is conducted. This pause will not greatly impact the County's current vaccine timelines and we will replace any J&J appointments this week with Pfizer or Moderna."
In a statement to ABC10, UC Davis Health said they weren't anticipating any canceled appointments from the pause. The hospital said the vast majority of their doses have been Moderna and Pfizer.
The CDC and FDA made the recommendation after looking at data that showed six women in the U.S. had developed a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) following a J&J vaccination. All six cases were found in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred roughly 6 to 13 days after receiving the Janssen vaccine. In a media briefing, the CDC and FDA said one women died and another is in critical condition.
Nearly 7 million doses of the J&J vaccine have already been administered in the U.S. Sacramento County said it will continue to monitor and follow recommendations from the CDC and FDA, and will review any J&J vaccine clinics scheduled for this week.