City News Service
Following a sudden halt to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, Los Angeles County has rescheduled the vast majority of appointments for that medication or replaced the vaccination with a Pfizer or Moderna dose, and the county’s public health director Wednesday stressed the safety of the shots.
Federal health officials recommended a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine Tuesday, following reports of six women across the country developing potentially dangerous blood clots within two weeks of being vaccinated. One of
the women died.
“These reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are, as has been noted, extremely rare,'” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday.
“Almost 7 million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States to date, making these unusual clots literally one-in-a-million events, a risk that’s about half the risk of getting struck by lightning.”
She said about 230,000 Johnson & Johnson doses have been administered at “county-controlled” vaccination sites to date, and none of the severe blood clot cases have occurred locally.
There were roughly 19,600 appointments in the county for the J&J vaccine this week, and as of Wednesday, 13,670 of them have been switched to either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, Ferrer said. She said people who need to have appointments rescheduled will be prioritized for appointments next week.
The county, which saw a dramatic decline in new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the past two months, has seen the numbers level off. State-adjusted figures released Tuesday showed the county’s seven-day average daily rate of new COVID-19 cases was 3.2 per 100,000 residents, a slight increase from 3.1 over the past two weeks.
Ferrer said the small upward tick was not an immediate cause for concern, calling it “really a blip at this moment” and insisting the numbers have been holding steady overall.
“As a reminder, the adjusted case rate reflects numbers from 10 days ago, and we really haven’t seen a significant increase over this past week,” she said. “… We could have these very small changes in the adjusted case rate, but right now I think we are holding steady. We are definitely not declining any longer, but we are holding steady.”
She also said she was not immediately concerned about up-and-down
hospitalization numbers over the past week.
“I think this is, again, without the case numbers continuing to drop so significantly, you’re not going to then see two to three weeks later
significant drops in hospitalizations either,” she said.
According to state figures, the number of people hospitalized in Los Angeles County rose back above the 500 mark Wednesday, reaching 518, up from 493 on Tuesday and 471 on Monday. There were 123 people in intensive care as of
Wednesday, down slightly from 126 on Tuesday.
The county reported an additional 57 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, and
Long Beach added one, bringing the cumulative county death toll during the
pandemic to 23,554.
Another 411 cases were also reported by the county, while Long Beach health officials added 38 more, pushing the overall pandemic total in the county to 1,227,002.