Utah expects to be down only a few hundred COVID-19 vaccines doses next week, despite the pause by states in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women in other parts of the country developed rare blood clots.
“It’s really not impacting us much,” said Rich Lakin, immunization director for the Utah Department of Health.
The 4,900 single doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that were set aside Tuesday while federal health authorities review the cases of blood clots in women 18 to 48, whose symptoms occurred six to 13 days after their shots, account for about 5% of the total doses the state receives weekly, Lakin said.
At the same time, he said Utah’s allotment from the federal government of the other two coronavirus vaccines approved for use in the United States, from Pfizer and Moderna, are going up by about 4,500 doses next week, leaving a shortfall of just 400 or so doses.
On Wednesday, the state health department reported administering a total of 1,768,246 vaccine doses, a daily increase of 30,243. A total of 83,154 have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Utah, and none have reported blood clots.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Food and Drug Administration, recommended states pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Tuesday, an action Lakin said he fears could keep some Utahns from getting the shots against the virus.
“We’ve seen six cases out of 6.8 million ... the odds are really small,” he said, calling the cases “a reason to pause but not to be frightened.”
Utah’s doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being stored in refrigerators and can last up to three months, Lakin said, although federal health authorities could have a decision as soon as next week about how they should be used.
That could mean women in the same age range as those affected may be advised to get a different vaccine, Lakin said.
Utahns “shouldn’t be concerned at all” about getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, he said, although the single-dose option is seen as more convenient, especially among hard-to-reach populations in areas of the state that are underserved when it comes to their health care needs.
“We’re getting a handle on this COVID outbreak, and it’s because of vaccinations” Lakin said.
Still, the demand for vaccine appointments is already slowing in some of the more rural parts of the state, he said, so doses are being shifted to areas like Salt Lake County where demand remains high. Utah opened up COVID-19 vaccinations to all residents 16 and older last month.
The state health department also reported 530 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday but no additional deaths from the virus.
There have now been 391,177 coronavirus cases in Utah since the pandemic began more than a year ago, and Utah’s death toll has reached 2,161 lives lost.
The rolling seven-day average for positive COVID-19 tests is 394 per day, and 8,155 additional Utahns took tests for the virus since Tuesday, with a total of 19,832 administered. Overall, nearly 2.5 million Utahns have been tested for the virus, and more than 4.4 million tests have been conducted in the state.
The latest numbers put the rolling seven-day average for percent positivity of virus tests at 3.8% when all results are included, the method used by the state to help determine county transmission levels, and 7.7% when multiple results by an individual are excluded.
Currently, 148 people are hospitalized in Utah with COVID-19, and total hospitalizations in the state throughout the pandemic are 15,838.