Coronavirus Skagit

With the state pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, local vaccine providers are offering alternatives.

Island Hospital and La Conner Drug, two vaccine providers that regularly administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will offer either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to those with appointments.

The pause in using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in response to a federal recommendation Tuesday that states stop administering this vaccine due to reports of blood clotting in some of those who have received it.

This side effect is rare. According to The New York Times, six recipients out of about 7 million in the country who have received the vaccine have reported blood clotting. All reported cases are in women ages 18 to 48.

Island Hospital in Anacortes, one of the larger vaccine providers in Skagit County that offers the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will offer the Moderna vaccine to those with appointments for Johnson & Johnson, according to a news release Tuesday.

Johnson & Johnson recipients who develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should contact their doctor, according to the release. Those who were vaccinated more than three weeks ago aren’t likely to experience complications.

Island Hospital spokesperson Laura Moroney said providers have been instructed to store Johnson & Johnson doses until the pause is resolved.

Aaron Syring, pharmacist and owner of Island Drug and La Conner Drug, said the hundreds of people who had appointments this week to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were notified they will be offered the Pfizer vaccine.

He said the pharmacies have enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to offer it this week as a replacement. However, because allocations aren’t consistent week to week, he said he can’t be certain the pharmacies will have enough to do the same next week, should the pause last that long.

Demand for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been fairly high across the chain’s three pharmacies, but has already fallen off after news over the weekend of the possible side effect, Syring said.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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