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Kentucky health departments adapt to J&J vaccine pause

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 4:04 PM EDT
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SOMERSET, Ky. (WKYT) - The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still on pause in Kentucky and some health departments are figuring out how to keep vaccine clinics going.

The Lake Cumberland District Health Department covers several counties in southern Kentucky. One department leader told us, so far, they’ve managed the changes well, with little fallout.

When the federal government suggested a pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, clinics across Kentucky had to change their plans.

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“We worked with some of our partner agencies across our 10 counties that had surplus vaccine and they shared with us so we were able to do everything that we were going to do with Johnson and Johnson,” said Amy Tomlinson, Lake Cumberland District Health Department. “We’ve now been able to offer Moderna in its place.”

There had been a big demand with some people waiting for that one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, so far, it hasn’t caused a drastic drop in the number of people they’ve been able to vaccinate.

“3:00 yesterday was our first clinic of the week that we had scheduled. So, I asked some of our nurses and people how that looked and they said that there was about a 70% show rate yesterday. That they may have had 30% or so cancel, out of fear for the vaccine and safety,” Tomlinson said.

That’s good news considering the decline in COVID-19 numbers the state had been seeing is starting to level off, and even rise a little bit.

Governor Beshear mentioned his concern during the taping of this week’s episode of “Kentucky Newsmakers” with Bill Bryant.

“Our concern, and what we’ve got a watch for, is that states like New York and New Jersey, Michigan, and many others, are now seeing a really significant rise in cases,” Gov. Beshear said. “A fourth wave. That doesn’t have to happen here.”

Tomlinson said they’ve had success taking vaccines to people who had been too busy working to make it to a clinic.

“Going to the industry or people maybe couldn’t get an appointment during a certain clinic on for an hour, but taking it to them has been much more helpful to them to be able to accept the vaccines,” Tomlinson said.

She hopes the trend of people being willing to take whichever vaccine is available continues.

“If you are waiting on the Johnson & Johnson consider Moderna or the Pfizer, go ahead and take what available,” Tomlinson said.

Leaders at the WEDCO District Health Department told us they converted their Johnson & Johnson clinics to walk-in Moderna clinics.

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