Polk County officials expect little impact from J & J vaccine disruption

Johnson & Johnson vaccines for COVID-19 have temporarily been pulled. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere)

The federal order to temporarily stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 is not expected to substantially alter operations in Iowa’s largest county. 

Nola Aigner Davis, spokeswoman for the Polk County Health Department, said the county is still assessing Tuesday’s announcement from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after several people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed a rare form of blood clot. But she added the county has received relatively few doses of that vaccine. She couldn’t say how many. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health database showed 5,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses had been allocated to Polk County through Tuesday, compared with 65,500 doses of Moderna’s vaccine and 149,760 of Pfizer’s.

Aigner Davis could not provide a total for last week, and the state’s public database doesn’t give weekly tallies by county. 

“We aren’t expecting much of an impact” from the interruption in Johnson & Johnson use as officials study the situation with the blood clots, Aigner Davis said.

As of Tuesday, the state reported it had distributed 102,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine statewide. That compares with 1.6 million doses, combined, of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

Iowa had fully vaccinated 25% of its population as of late Tuesday afternoon, the New York Times reported. More than a third of Iowans, 38%, had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

Iowa’s new COVID cases have fallen 16% in the past two weeks, while deaths have dropped 34%, the Times reported.

Since the pandemic started, Iowa has recorded 386,638 cases, and 5,857 deaths, the state database shows

As of Tuesday, three nursing homes had outbreaks with 31 cases among residents and staff. To date, 2,296 Iowans had died of COVID-19 in nursing homes. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it will pay up to $9,000 to reimburse families for funeral expenses for a U.S. resident who died of COVID-19.