Alluvion, local providers halting use of Johnson and Johnson vaccine; Gianforte issues order prohibiting vaccine passport in Montana

Alluvion Health said April 13 that it will suspend use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine based on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The federal agencies made the recommendation this week “out of an abundance of caution” after six women in the U.S. who had received the vaccine developed a rare blood-clotting disorder.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has also halted the use of the the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine in the state until further notice, following the CDC and FDA recommendations, according to the Cascade County City-County Health Department.

County has small COVID-19 case spike; walk-ins now accepted at vaccine clinic at Expo Park

Alluvion will only be administering the Moderna vaccine at the walk-in clinic on April 15 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Exhibition Hall at Montana Expo Park, according to a release from Alluvion.

The clinic is open to the public for those 18 and older and no appointments are needed.

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanding to all 16 and older April 1; state finds COVID-19 as third leading cause of death for 2020

Those who receive a vaccine at the walk-in clinic will need to return on May 13 for their second dose, according to Alluvion.

As of April 12, 41,996 total COVID-19 doses have been administered and 17,606 people are fully vaccinated in Cascade County, according to the state dashboard.

GFPS planning in-person graduation ceremonies; mask requirement remains

Multiple pharmacies in town have the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and some companies, such as Walgreens and CVS, are saying they are following the recommendation and suspending use of that vaccine.

Nearly seven million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

Trisha Gardner, Cascade County health officer, told The Electric that a Health Alert Network message regarding the Johnson and Johnson pause went out Tuesday afternoon and that the CCHD would be forwarding that information to healthcare providers.

Gardner said that CCHD has instructed all enrolled providers to pause the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for now.

“As we receive more information from the CDC we will continue to update vaccine providers, but as for now nobody should be administering that vaccine,” Gardner told The Electric.

CCHD has primarily used the Moderna vaccine, but did received some Johnson and Johnson over the last few weeks, she said. The community clinic at the fairground has only been administering the Pfizer vaccine, Gardner said.

As of April 13, there was no word yet on any new variants found in Cascade County, she said.

On April 13, Gov. Greg Gianforte issued an executive order prohibiting the state-sponsored development and required use of vaccine passports in Montana.

“I strongly encourage Montanans to get a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine, which is our best path to protect our family and friends and get back to a more normal life,” Gianforte said in a release. “Receiving one is entirely voluntary and will not be mandated by the State of Montana, nor compelled through vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other compulsory means. We are committed to protecting individual liberty and personal privacy.”

The executive order prohibits the state from requiring a vaccine to access state services or facilities; producing, issuing, or funding vaccine passports; and sharing an individual’s vaccination status with any person, company, or governmental entity for purposes of a vaccine passport program. It also prohibits Montana businesses from requiring patrons and customers to provide documentation of their vaccination status to gain access to, entry upon, or service.

According to the joint release from the CDC and FDA, the agencies are reviewing the six reported U.S. cases of the rare blood clot condition.

“In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” according to the release.

The CDC will hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on April 14 to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot,” according to the release. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

People who have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine who develop “severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,” according to the release, and healthcare providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.