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MSDH lifts pause on distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

After it was recommended by the CDC over the weekend, the Mississippi State Department of Health is lifting its pause on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The one-dose vaccine is back on the market after the CDC and FDA investigated six initial cases of a rare blood clot associated with women between the ages of 18-49 who received the shot. While that total rose to 15, Mississippi’s top health experts stressed that the risk of developing the clot is extremely low. 

“The risk is very low, but it is there,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. 

Dr. Dobbs outlined that the risk of developing the blood clot among those taking the J&J vaccine is 1.9 per one million. He compared this to the death rate for those diagnosed with COVID-19 between the ages of 25-39 which is 1.9 per 1,000. 

Over 40,000 doses of the vaccine are ready to be shipped to physicians across the state. Doctors administering the shot will be required to provide patients with information regarding the potential risk. The guidance also outlines that effective alternatives are widely available with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

As the state’s rollout of the vaccine continues, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers stated that over 70% of Mississippi’s 65+ population has received at least one dose. In total, 29% of the state’s entire population has gotten their first dose and 24% are fully vaccinated. 

Director of Preventive Health and Health Equity Dr. Victor Sutton revealed the results of a survey issued by the MSDH to gauge the state’s willingness to get vaccinated. The survey of over 11,000 residents across all 82 counties revealed that 73% of Mississippians plan to get vaccinated. That varied by race with 80% of Asian Americans, 80% of Caucasians, 66% of Native Americans, 61% of Latinos and 56% of African Americans answering that they intend to get vaccinated. Dr. Sutton stated that the survey did not reveal much variation among political affiliations. 

Just 52% of participants plan to vaccinate their children. Currently,  those 16 and older can get vaccinated. 

Dr. Byers stated that the MSDH has confirmed 8 deaths in Mississippi among those who contracted the UK strain of the virus. 350+ variant cases have been identified in the state. Dr. Byers reiterated that the available vaccines are highly effective against the known variant strains of COVID-19. Those who passed away from the variant strains were not fully vaccinated. 

MSDH officials also announced a new tool for homebound Mississippians that want to get vaccinated. If you know someone who is homebound, email their information to covidhomebound@msdh.ms.gov. 

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