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Hawaii pauses J&J, but moving ahead with vaccine plan

April 14, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Department of Health said Tuesday it will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the state in accordance with U.S. recommendations, but officials say they are still on track to begin opening vaccinations to everyone over the age of 16 next week.

The suspension comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating unusual clots that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

The rare clots occurred in six women, out of the more than 7.2 million adults who’ve received the shot. One of the patients died and another remains hospitalized in serious condition.

The acting FDA commissioner said she expected the pause to last a matter of days.

Most people vaccinated in Hawaii have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which each require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only needs one dose.

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Dr. Libby Char, the health department’s director, said Hawaii was scheduled to receive only 2,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week so the pause won’t significantly disrupt the state’s vaccination plans.

“We’re going to keep marching forward. Most of the vaccine that we’re using out in our community and in the hospitals was Pfizer and Moderna anyway. So this will set us back a little bit, but not a lot,” Char said.

She said Hawaii still expects to meet the Biden administration’s target of opening vaccinations to everyone 16 and older beginning Monday.

Char said she was unaware of anyone in Hawaii developing a severe reaction to any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

So far, 32% of Hawaii’s population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Hawaii has received 47,600 doses of the J&J vaccine to date and has administered 17,808 at a variety of sites across the state.

These figures don’t include doses distributed through the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs or national retail pharmacy chains.