Tennessee joins other states in pausing J&J COVID-19 vaccine

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee’s Department of Health on Tuesday announced that it would “pause” distributing the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following new guidance from the federal government.

Earlier that day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating unusual and severe blood clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The FDA commissioner said she expected the pause to last a matter of days.

The move has since sparked several states, including nearby Kentucky, to immediately halt their distribution of the J&J vaccine.

“Our vaccine supply continues to surpass demand and we do not anticipate this shift will impact our efforts to vaccinate as many Tennesseans as possible. We continue to monitor the situation closely,” the department said in a statement.

The department added that the pause was part of “necessary precautions” even though reports of the adverse events following the J&J vaccine administration are rare — currently just six cases out of nearly 7 million doses distributed.

Around 318,000 J&J vaccines have been delivered to Tennessee out of the total 4.6 million doses the state has received to date, according to the agency’s website.

The state will coordinate with vaccine providers to ensure those seeking the life-saving immunization will have access to those manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna. The vaccine is available in Tennessee to anyone aged 16 or older.

Nearly 30% of Tennessee residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — which is below the national total of 36%.

Meanwhile, Tennessee has seen 12,015 COVID-19 related deaths to date as of Tuesday, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. That death count is the 15th highest in the country overall and the 20th highest per capita at 177.5 deaths per 100,000 people.