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New Jersey Pauses Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccinations

The New Jersey Department of Health paused the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across all sites in the state as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating the safety of the vaccine. 

“All New Jersey vaccination sites have been told to cancel or put on hold appointments for the J&J vaccine until further notice,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli in a press statement April 13. “For individuals scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine, the department will work with all vaccination sites to make arrangements for the administration of an alternative two-dose vaccine. We will work with all sites, as needed, to reschedule vaccination appointments.”

The decision comes after the CDC and FDA called for the stoppage of J&J due to six blood clot cases occurring among women between the ages of 18 and 48. The agencies reported a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

Severely Rare Cases

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on April 14 to review the cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it investigates these cases concurrently. 

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the agencies wrote in a joint statement published April 12. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, in Paramus to sign a bill to provide $10 million in childcare, said the state has not reported any blood clot cases from the approximately 235,000 doses administered in New Jersey.

“The adverse reactions appear to be severely rare,” said Murphy. “No one who has received this vaccine should panic or worry…a pause is a precautionary and smart step.”  

Key to Vaccine Program

The day before the federal announcement, state officials expressed confidence in the New Jersey-based company’s vaccine even in the light of three members of an Edison family tested positive for the coronavirus a month after receiving the J&J vaccine.

“All three of these vaccines have been found to be safe and effective. They’ve been proven to reduce severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” said Persichilli on April 12. 

The J&J vaccine has been promoted by Murphy as being key in getting to the hard-to-reach residents in the state due to its ability to be refrigerated compared with the sub-zero storage needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

Slowdown in Supplies

The news comes on the heels of supplies of the single-dose vaccine plummeting over the this week and next due to issues at a Baltimore manufacturing plant. State officials said the Garden State will receive 90% fewer doses of the J&J vaccine this week compared with last week—a drop to 15,600 from 131,000. That is expected to dwindle further to just 5,200 doses the week of April 19, when all New Jersey residents 16 and older in become eligible for vaccination

“J&J was explicit over the weekend that they would still be able to achieve their 100 million dose production by the end of June but clearly it’s going to be back-ended within that period of time,” said Murphy. “That allows us to have the confidence that we have while the next few weeks feel like they’re going to be lighter than we would like,” the state will reach its goal of fully vaccinating 4.7 million resident by June 30.   

For this week, the state is expecting to receive 272,610 doses of Pfizer vaccine and 178,700 of Moderna, on par with previous weeks.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 5,540,631 as of April 13. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,530,153 residents have received their first dose with 2,243,427 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose; 52% have been administered the Pfizer vaccine, 44% the Moderna vaccine and 4% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Demographically, 56% of those vaccinated are women and 44% men. As for ethnicity, 57% are White, 10% other, 9% unknown, 9% Hispanic, 9% Asian and 5% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 38% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 25% are between the ages of 40-49, and 9% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 621,191 doses, Essex 425,535 doses, Morris 388,493 doses, Hudson 328,352 doses, Passaic 254,096 doses, Sussex 85,675 doses, and Warren 55,060 doses. 

Daily Data

As of April 13, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 843,194 with 3,466 total new PCR cases reported. There were 869 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 117,620. The total number of individual cases for the state is 960,814. Gov. Murphy previously noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.

As for those that have passed, the state reported 49 new deaths, bringing that total to 22,372. The state listed probable deaths at 2,573, bringing the overall total to 24,945. State officials noted 31 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on April 12, Bergen had a total of 303 new confirmed cases and 116 probable cases, Essex 417 new cases and 67 probable cases, Hudson 284 new cases and 70 probable cases, Morris 182 new cases and 44 probable cases, Passaic 284 new cases and 62 probable cases, Sussex 51 new cases and 29 probable cases, and Warren 52 cases and 14 new probable cases.

There are a total of 958 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 936 cases of the U.K. variant, 11 cases of the California variants, nine cases of the Brazilian P1 variant, and two cases of the South African variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,534, followed by Bergen at 2,475, Hudson with 1,960, Passaic at 1,632, Morris at 950, Sussex at 222 and Warren County at 204.

In regards to probable deaths reported April 7, Bergen has 294, Essex has 291, Morris has 241, Hudson has 203, Passaic has 194, Sussex has 66 and Warren has 25.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 0.93 from 0.94 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of April 8, was 8.4%; by region, the rate was 8.5% in the North, 8.0% in the Central region and 8.8% in the South. 

Officials reported 2,319 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,153 in the North, 718 in the Central and 448  in the South. Of those hospitalized, 459 are in intensive care units and 239 on ventilators. A total of 203 patients were discharged, while 243 were admitted.

Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospilizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 84,502, followed by Essex at 81,857, Middlesex at 81,347, Hudson at 75,614, Monmouth at 64,272, Ocean at 62,741, Passaic at 61,151, Union at 57,252, Camden at 45,404, Morris at 40,154, Burlington at 36,137, Mercer at 30,129, Gloucester at 24,670, Atlantic at 23,489, Somerset at 22,871, Cumberland at 13,667, Sussex at 10,732, Hunterdon at 8,217, Warren at 8,154, Salem at 5,006, and Cape May at 4,298.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 12,246, followed by Union at 10,146, Ocean at 9,399, Essex at 8,663, Hudson at 8,405, Monmouth at 7,518, Morris at 7,445, Middlesex at 6,845, Passaic at 6,692, Atlantic at 6,278, Burlington at 5,946, Camden at 5,921, Somerset at 5,385, Cape May at 4,295, Gloucester at 3,678, Cumberland at 2,191, Mercer at 2,140, Sussex at 2,004, Warren at 906, Hunterdon at 808 and Salem 504.

Another 744 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 240 outbreaks involving 1,070 cases have been reported, with 35 new outbreaks accounting for 123 cases in the weekly update on April 6. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 51 confirmed outbreaks with 196 cases, Passaic County has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 50 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Sussex has 11 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 235 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 7,108 of the cases, broken down between 3,175 residents and 3,933 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,372 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,649 residents and 21,744 staff, for a total of 54,393 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,006 on April 13. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,859 residents deaths and 142 staff deaths.

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