EBCI pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution

by Apr 15, 2021Front Page, Health, NEWS ka-no-he-da



One Feather Staff


The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Mass Vaccination Team is following Federal guidelines and ceasing the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine until further notice.

On the morning of Tuesday, April 13, the FDA and CDC released a joint statement addressing the recent trend showing blood clotting issues with individuals who received the J&J vaccine.

“CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” read the statement.

These entities have recommended a pause on using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until all the concerns can be addressed. The CDC will be meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday, April 14 to discuss these cases.

“CIHA and Tribal PHHS (Public Health and Human Services) were made aware of the issue with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine early this morning, April 13, 2021, prior to the start of the workday,” said Dr. Richard Bunio, Executive Medical Director at the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority (CIHA).  “The vaccine was immediately pulled from use and all future Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinics were placed on hold.”

CIHA and Tribal PHHS first started offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the end of March. The Tribe held a clinic for this vaccine on Monday evening until 7 p.m.

“Currently, CIHA does not have any Johnson and Johnson vaccine. So far, we have only received 100 doses through IHS, which have been already administered. The remainder of the J&J vaccine clinics have been supplied by neighboring county health departments,” said Dr. Bunio.

PHHS was contacted for a statement, but they referred to the CIHA and guidelines offered by the CDC and FDA.

Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed offered the following statement on the situation:

“Upon learning of potential issues with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the EBCI Mass Vaccination Committee immediately took steps to protect EBCI tribal citizens and community members.  I am proud of and appreciate their efforts to ensure the health of our people.  I want to assure everyone that we will continue to monitor Public Health information and best practices to keep our community safe and healthy.”

The vaccination team has not reported any significant issues in Cherokee regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The EBCI is also continuing clinics for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. As of Monday, Tribal PHHS is reporting 30 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

“All individuals who have recently received the J&J vaccine who have concerns or potential issues will be welcome to seek advice and care from CIHA through their primary care provider or the emergency room if experiencing severe symptoms of concern.”