Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | Kaiser Health News

Tom Smith

CDC Investigates Blood Clot Cases Ahead Of Decision On J&J Shot The agency’s vaccine advisory panel is scheduled to convene again Friday. Meanwhile, medical experts weigh in on the potential risks and a new survey shows that vaccination confidence hasn’t taken much of a hit from the Johnson & Johnson […]

CDC Investigates Blood Clot Cases Ahead Of Decision On J&J Shot

The agency’s vaccine advisory panel is scheduled to convene again Friday. Meanwhile, medical experts weigh in on the potential risks and a new survey shows that vaccination confidence hasn’t taken much of a hit from the Johnson & Johnson suspension.

CDC Vaccine Advisers Will Meet Friday To Discuss The J&J Vaccine. Here’s What Could Happen Next 

Vaccine advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meet Friday to make recommendations for use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after it was put on hold to investigate a potential link to serious blood clots. The CDC and US Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause on use of the J&J coronavirus vaccine last week following six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot. (Mascarenhas and Cohen, 4/20)

These Blood Clot Experts Want You To Get A Covid-19 Vaccine. Here’s Why. 

It was just about a year ago that doctors started noticing Covid-19 patients showing up in emergency rooms with strokes, and complained that blood clots were clogging up dialysis machines and other equipment being used to keep coronavirus patients alive. Frantic intensive care unit specialists reported “dramatic” blood clots in the heart, liver and other organs. Autopsies of coronavirus victims in New Orleans showed their lungs were jammed with clots. (Fox, 4/20)

Nevada Teen Suffers Seizures, Brain Clots After J&J Vaccine

An 18-year-old woman in Nevada who suffered seizures after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has received three brain surgeries related to blood clots, a spokesperson for her family said. Emma Burkey began feeling sick about a week after receiving the one-dose vaccine early this month, spokesman Bret Johnson said. She was one of six women in the U.S. and the only reported resident in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, who experienced a serious clotting side effect. One person died. (4/20)

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine ‘Pause’ Isn’t Crimping Confidence In The Vaccination Process, Survey Says

The federal “pause” in administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine doesn’t appear to have damaged public confidence in the vaccination process, one new survey suggests. Fifty-three percent of respondents polled in the wake of the pause agreed that it was a “good example of the rigorous safety monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccines that is in place to protect Americans.” In contrast, 29% said the pause was a case study on why the COVID-19 vaccines should be avoided. (Keshner, 4/20)

In global news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine —

Czech Republic Rolls Out J&J Vaccines

The Czech Republic is rolling out the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines after examination by the European regulator. … The Czech Health Ministry says the first 14,400 dozes will be sent to general practitioners across the country. Another 24,000 J&J vaccines are expected to be delivered next week. (4/21)

Company That Spoiled J&J Vaccines Investigated For Trump Admin Ties

Meanwhile, reports say a $1.3 billion federal award from the Trump administration to a syringe manufacturer has resulted in no syringe production. Separately, Pfizer is urged to publish a report outlining its political donations and J&J’s sales growth is boosted by covid vaccines.

Congress Probes Emergent’s Ties To A Key Trump Official

A pair of top House Democrats is investigating whether Emergent BioSolutions (EBS), which was responsible for contaminating millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Covid-19 vaccine, traded on its relationship with a key Trump administration official to win federal contracts. In a letter to the company, which is one of the biggest contract manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry, the lawmakers noted they are reacting to reports that Emergent received a $628 million contract last June to create the main U.S. facility for making Covid-19 vaccines for both J&J and AstraZeneca (AZN), despite a history of inadequately trained staff and quality control problems. (Silverman, 4/20)

NBC News:
Trump Administration Awarded A Firm $1.3 Billion To Make Covid Vaccine Syringes. Where Are The Syringes?

A year after a Connecticut company was awarded almost $1.3 billion in federal loans and contracts to supply an essential syringe for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, no syringes have been made. The syringe hasn’t received even the first of a series of approvals it needs from the federal government before it can be manufactured, and a factory promising 650 jobs remains unbuilt. ApiJect Systems Corp. positioned itself as the company that would make the difference between a stumbling rollout and delivery of lifesaving vaccines. But as the U.S. vaccine rollout hits full stride, with about half of adults in the U.S. having already received at least one injection, the need for ApiJect’s device has waned, leaving the contracts and loans in question. (Lehren and Strickler, 4/21)

Pfizer Shareholders Urged To Reject Political Donations Contradicting ‘Values’

Arguing that Pfizer’s political spending conflicts with the company’s publicly stated values, a philanthropic organization is urging shareholders to support a proposal that would require the drug maker to publish an annual report analyzing its donations. The proposal, which is among those to be voted on at the Pfizer (PFE) annual meeting on Thursday, addresses political contributions that pose not only financial risks, but could also jeopardize its standing with the public at large, according to The Tara Health Foundation, which supports numerous organizations devoted to women’s health, the environment, and socially conscious investing. (Silverman, 4/20)

The Wall Street Journal:
Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Adds $100 Million To Quarterly Sales

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine contributed $100 million to the company’s sales growth in the latest quarter, though the outlook for future sales is uncertain due to pauses in vaccinations while health authorities in several countries probe safety concerns. The European drug regulator said Tuesday a safety committee recommended that a warning about a rare, serious blood-clot condition be added to the product information for J&J’s vaccine. The European Medicines Agency didn’t halt use of the vaccine and said its benefits continue to outweigh risks. It said the clot risk was very low but that people should be aware of symptoms so they can quickly get treated. (Loftus and Grossman, 4/20)

The Wall Street Journal:
Johnson & Johnson Shows Health Economy Is Nearing Full Strength

After a year of pandemic-related disruptions, the healthcare industry has nearly returned to business as usual. Wall Street doesn’t yet seem to have noticed. Take Johnson & Johnson for instance. Investors and the general public have focused lately on Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, the rollout of which has been paused by regulators in the U.S. as adverse events related to blood clotting are reviewed. While European regulators declined to halt the vaccine on Tuesday, and shots could resume soon in the U.S., the vaccine itself isn’t material to the company’s finances. (Grant, 4/20)

Vaccine Rollout Set To Meet Biden’s 200 Million Shot Goal

In other covid vaccine news, Louisiana and Maine see a slowdown in vaccine uptake, a Texas county closes its mass vaccination site since it has “accomplished its goals” and NPR reports on urban versus rural vaccine disparity for seniors.

Hitting Latest Vaccine Milestone, Biden Pushes Shots For All

The U.S. is set to meet President Joe Biden’s latest vaccine goal of administering 200 million COVID-19 shots in his first 100 days in office, as the White House steps up its efforts to inoculate the rest of the public. With more than 50% of adults at least partially vaccinated, Biden on Wednesday will reflect on his efforts to expand vaccine distribution and access in his first three months in the White House. But with all those 16 and older now eligible for shots, the president is expected to outline his administration’s plans to drive up the vaccination rate even further. (Miller, 4/21)

Biden Administration Officials: Vaccine Equity Takes Effort 

Distributing the coronavirus vaccine to community health centers has been “critical” to the Biden administration’s goal of vaccinating Americans while maintaining racial equity, Cameron Webb, White House senior policy advisor for COVID-19 equity said at an Axios event on Tuesday. Webb said the administration was committed to getting everyone vaccinated but “there’s also that long issue of making sure that racial justice is a priority, making sure that we’re serving rural communities and a very real and meaningful way.” (4/20)

The Country May Soon Reach A Tipping Point On Covid-19 Vaccine Demand. Here’s Why That’s Concerning 

As US health officials race to get more Covid-19 shots into arms to control the virus, experts now warn the country will run into another challenge in the next few weeks: vaccine supply will likely outstrip demand. “While timing may differ by state, we estimate that across the U.S. as a whole we will likely reach a tipping point on vaccine enthusiasm in the next 2 to 4 weeks,” the Kaiser Family Foundation said in a new report published Tuesday. (Maxouris, 4/21)

In other news on the vaccine rollout —

North Dakota, Manitoba Announce Joint Border Vaccine Program

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister unveiled a plan Tuesday to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to Manitoba-based truck drivers transporting goods to and from the United States. The Essential Worker Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative expects to vaccinate up to 4,000 Manitoba drivers in the next six to eight weeks, the two leaders said in a release. Burgum said North Dakota has adequate vaccine supplies and it benefits both countries to work together on giving shots. (4/20)

New Orleans Times-Picayune:
J&J Vaccine Pause Comes As Louisiana Sees Slowdown In Demand For Shots

Louisiana’s vaccine supply is still able to keep up with demand, in part because shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have ramped up. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was already expected in smaller amounts because of earlier manufacturing issues. But the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which does not require a freezer or dry ice for transportation, was popular among a wide range of people who could be challenging to reach for two separate doses: the homeless population, young people and those who lacked access to transportation or had trouble taking off work. (Woodruff and Rddad, 4/20)

Houston Chronicle:
Galveston County To Close Mass Vaccination Site In League City

Galveston County officials announced Tuesday that its mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Walter Hall Park will no longer be available for appointments beginning May 1, saying the site has largely accomplished its goals. Philip Keiser, the county’s local health authority, characterized the closing of the site as a milestone for the county’s relative success in getting as many as 4,000 doses of vaccine out per day. The site will continue to fill appointments for second doses through next week before shutting down for good. (Powell, 4/20)

Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Temporarily Closes Dodger Stadium, Other Vaccination Sites For Chauvin Verdict

The city of Los Angeles shut down Dodger Stadium and eight other COVID-19 vaccination sites Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of mass demonstrations with the verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin imminent. The closures, which also apply to mobile vaccination clinics run by the city, are temporary and are a “simple precaution,” according to the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. (Nelson, 4/20)

Bangor Daily News:
Maine Enters New COVID-19 Vaccine Phase As Demand Dies Down

Some COVID-19 vaccine sites in rural Maine have recently closed as demand for shots appears to be slowing, presenting a new challenge for public health officials. Just over 50 percent of Mainers have had their first shot on Tuesday as Maine reached a public health milestone of 1 million doses. But while state officials say demand remains high in the state, signs are showing Maine may have reached a wide population of people eager to get vaccinated or able to do so within the current framework. (Andrews, 4/21)

Rural COVID Vaccination Rates Trail Urban Among Seniors

Chris Reimer had never heard of Leopold, Mo., when he found himself rushing down a winding, two-lane road toward the rural, 65-person community in February. Reimer, a social media manager in St. Louis, had made a split-second decision when he saw a local television reporter tweet about a 2,000-dose COVID-19 vaccination clinic opening to anyone after 3 p.m. that day. “I jumped in the car and started driving south,” Reimer says, though the clinic was two hours away in Leopold. “I definitely saw other cars [on the interstate highway] and thought to myself, ‘I wonder if they’re going the same place I am?’ because we were all driving perhaps a little too quickly.” (Fast, 4/20)

Also —

Most Americans Say U.S. Should Donate Covid Vaccines To Other Countries

Three-quarters of Americans believe the U.S. government should start donating Covid-19 vaccines to other countries, but only after every person in the U.S. who wants a vaccine has received one, according to a new survey from STAT and The Harris Poll. At the same time, just over half of Americans said they agree with the idea that the Biden administration should immediately start donating vaccines to other countries in order to achieve global herd immunity, which reflects growing concern that the coronavirus cannot be contained until most of the world is vaccinated. (Silverman, 4/21)

Hawaii Is Second State To Ease Travel Restrictions For The Fully Vaccinated

New York was the first. Meanwhile, some airlines say they want to see proof of vaccination, but they won’t call it a “vaccine passport.”

Hawaii To Begin Vaccine Passports For Travel Between Islands

Hawaii officials will allow state residents who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to skip pre-travel testing and quarantine requirements for flights between islands. Hawaii becomes the second state in the nation after New York to implement a vaccination verification program, state officials said at a news conference Tuesday. (Jones, 4/21)

Yahoo Finance:
Airlines Won’t Call Travelers’ COVID-19 Vaccination Proof Vaccine Passports

The world awaits pandemic weary travelers, who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and ready to hit the road. United Airlines (UAL) announced Monday, in its Q1 earnings report, that it will begin flying this July to Iceland, Greece, and Croatia “moving to capitalize on emerging pent-up demand for travel to countries where vaccinated travelers are welcome.”  The key, of course, is for a passenger to prove they have been vaccinated. Countries like Israel and China are already using digital certificates to allow citizens to travel while New York state is using The Excelsior Pass. These digital documents allow people to “present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.” They are often called vaccine passports but Delta Air Lines (DAL) CEO Ed Bastian told Yahoo Finance Live, “We don’t call it a vaccine passport. It carries too many connotations.”  (Shapiro, 4/20)

Health News Florida:
House Adds COVID-19 ‘Passport’ Ban To Local Emergency Bill 

A House committee Monday approved a proposal that would limit local emergency orders and make permanent Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring COVID-19 “passports” that would show people have been vaccinated. The Health & Human Services Committee voted 14-8 to support a revised proposal (HB 7047) intended to “minimize the negative effects of extended emergencies.” (Turner, 4/20)

In more news on vaccine hesitancy —

Philadelphia Inquirer:
COVID Vaccine Hesitancy Among Gen Z Increasing. Targeted Public Health Messaging Can Help, Experts Say

COVID-19 vaccine interest among Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, has dropped in recent months, according to new polls — a worrying trend as the country opens vaccine eligibility to everyone over age 16. In a NBCLX/Morning Consult poll conducted last month, 26% of Gen Z respondents said they will not get vaccinated, and 19% said that they do not yet know whether they will. In a similar poll conducted last year, only 5% of Gen Z said that they would not get vaccinated, demonstrating a sharp increase in vaccine hesitancy at a time when other groups are growing more accepting of the vaccine. A recent STAT-Harris Poll also found that 21% of Gen Z respondents said they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19, while 34% said that they would “wait a while and see” before getting vaccinated. (Ao, 4/19)

Gen Z And Millennials Are The Next Challenge For U.S. And U.K.

As the days grow longer, there’s a palpable feeling of hope in the air — at least in the more fortunate western countries. Thanks in part to vaccines, Covid-19 deaths are dropping in the U.K. and the U.S., enabling parts of normal life to resume. But, as we’re well aware, it’s not over yet. If we want to have a shot at halting transmission, everybody needs their jabs. Governments around the world desperately need to close the yawning vaccine gap between rich and poor nations. But as wealthy nations begin offering vaccinations to younger cohorts, they may hit a challenge closer to home. (Lara Williams, 4/21)

Philadelphia Inquirer:
Pennsylvania Turns To Fighting COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy To Achieve Herd Immunity

Doctors in Bradford County keep pleading with patients: Consider getting the coronavirus vaccine. But lately, patients keep saying they want to wait. The county, on the Pennsylvania-New York border, has seen COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in recent days. While more than half of U.S. adults — and 43% of Pennsylvanians — have gotten at least one dose, barely a quarter of those in Bradford County have done so. And the state’s expansion last week of eligibility to all 16 and older didn’t bring a fresh rush to clinics. (McCarthy and McDaniel, 4/21)

In updates on possible vaccine side effects —

New York Post:
Herpes Infection Possibly Linked To COVID-19 Vaccine, Study Says

Herpes infections may be a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, experts have revealed. Scientists in Israel identified six cases in a new study of patients developing a skin rash known as herpes zoster after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, according to a study in the Rheumatology journal. Herpes zoster starts off as a small, itchy skin rash, but if left untreated, it could cause nerve damage and pain, the Jerusalem Post reported. (Salo, 4/20)

Idaho Statesman:
‘Vaccine Failure’ May Be More Common If You Have A Weakened Immune System. Here’s Why

On March 13, Lonnie Gaylor noticed he had a persistent cough that resisted over-the-counter medicine. Two days later, the 71-year-old met virtually with his primary care doctor who recommended he get tested for strep throat. A couple hours after driving through a hospital testing site in Waxahachie, Texas, just south of Dallas, Gaylor learned he was positive for both strep throat and COVID-19. It was a concerning diagnosis given Gaylor has Type 2 diabetes and a kidney disorder, and was 40 pounds overweight. Yet, he had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for a little over a month. (Camero, 4/20)

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