J&J’s R&R ending? Johnson & Johnson shots to resume in Cook County after feds’ OK: ‘We will continue to offer it as an option’

“Many people are still asking for the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine,” Cook County Public Health co-lead Dr. Rachel Rubin said. “We need to remain vigilant, and having all three vaccines available will allow greater numbers of people to be vaccinated.”

SHARE J&J’s R&R ending? Johnson & Johnson shots to resume in Cook County after feds’ OK: ‘We will continue to offer it as an option’
A COVID-19 vaccine is administered March 29 at a site run by the Chicago Federation of Labor at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 on the South Side. About 28% of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated.

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered March 29 at a site run by the Chicago Federation of Labor at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 on the South Side. About 28% of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Cook County public health officials on Wednesday said they expect to soon resume administering doses of the federally scrutinized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, as federal regulators appear poised to give providers the go-ahead to do so.

The one-and-done J&J shot was shelved nationwide last week following six reports of rare blood clots surfacing among almost 7 million recipients.

European regulators decided earlier this week that the benefits of the 66% effective vaccine outweigh the “very low risk” of the one-in-a-million side effects, and Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, said she expects U.S. regulators to follow suit.

“We anticipate hearing from the CDC and FDA later this week that the vaccine will be put back into use, but probably with some restrictions and certainly a warning about the potential for the very rare complication of blood clots,” Rubin said during a news conference at Provident Hospital on the South Side.

Dr. Rachel Rubin in 2020.

Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, in December.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

“Many people are still asking for the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine, and we will continue to offer it as an option once it is approved for use again,” she said.

Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plus the Food and Drug Administration, are expected to issue a decision on the J&J vaccine Friday.

More than 290,000 Illinoisans received it — including Gov. J.B. Pritzker and about 47,000 other Chicagoans — before it was pulled from circulation April 13. None of the rare complications have been reported in Illinois.

Pfizer and Moderna doses still make up the vast majority of the state’s vaccine supply. Providers doled out 140,712 shots Tuesday, Illinois’ eighth most productive vaccination day yet.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health


Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

More than 8.3 million doses have been administered overall over the past four months, with 3.5 million residents now fully vaccinated — almost 28% of the population.

The J&J shot could be reintroduced as the state appears to ease down from its third coronavirus surge.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,765 new cases of the disease diagnosed among 81,133 tests to keep the average statewide positivity rate at 3.8%. After doubling over the course of a month, that key metric has now fallen or held steady for nine straight days.

New COVID-19 cases by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health


Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

Chicago’s regional positivity rate has fallen to 5.4%, and it’s back down to 5.3% in suburban Cook County.

“Our new case numbers are continuing to be high, but it looks like we are leveling out with the daily numbers and our positivity rate,” Rubin said. “We need to remain vigilant, and having all three vaccines available will allow greater numbers of people to be vaccinated.”

Illinois hospitals reported a slight decrease in COVID-19 patients, down to 2,191 as of Tuesday night.

But the virus also killed 28 more residents, including a Kankakee County man in his 30s.

More than 1.3 million Illinoisans have contracted COVID-19 over the last year, and 21,722 have died.

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