Santa Clara County receives large COVID vaccine allocation, halts Johnson & Johnson administration
Sandra Campos received her COVID-19 vaccine at Monterey Mushrooms in Morgan Hill on Cesar Chavez Day. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Santa Clara County public health officials announced Tuesday they are receiving tens of thousands of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government. That allocation comes as the county halts administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to extremely rare cases of blood clotting.

The recent allocation will allow Santa Clara County to vaccinate up to its goal of 200,000 residents per week.

Health officials have previously stated that the only factor limiting the number of vaccines administered is lacking vaccine allotments from the state. Officials celebrated opening a mass vaccination site at Levi’s Stadium in early February and claimed the location could accommodate administering 15,000 vaccine doses per day, but quickly lamented that there weren’t enough vaccine doses to utilize the site’s capacity.

“For a long time we’ve been talking about the great capacity we have, and we just need the vaccine,” COVID-19 Testing Officer Marty Fenstersheib said. “Well, finally we are going to see a tremendous increase in the vaccine we are receiving and an increase in the appointments we will have available. This is a really big milestone for our community and the county’s effort to provide vaccinations for all of our residents.”

The county will receive the doses through several of its federally qualified health centers. The first shipments of additional vaccine supplies arrived Tuesday morning, and county officials said they expected additional supplies to arrive next week.

Officials also announced Tuesday that anyone in Santa Clara County ages 16 and older could schedule their vaccine appointment—two days earlier than the tier change required by the state.

The large allocation comes on the heels of news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating an extremely rare blood clotting symptom in six individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Santa Clara County is halting the administration of all Johnson & Johnson vaccines until the agencies provide further clarification.

“Those who have existing appointments (that would have been) the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be accommodated by either of the other two vaccines that are available,” Fenstersheib said.

More than 60,000 individuals in Santa Clara County have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“It’s very hard to say conclusively that this condition is related to the vaccine since it is a condition we see in people who have never received a J&J vaccine,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. “So it is out of an abundance of caution that the CDC is making this recommendation.”

Fenstersheib said he isn’t sure how much Johnson & Johnson vaccine the county had left, but estimated there might be a few thousand doses.

All six blood clotting cases were among women between the ages of 18 and 48. The women had symptoms that occurred between six and 13 days after their vaccination. So far there has only been one recorded death nationally, a 45-year-old woman in Virginia who died in mid-March two weeks after receiving the vaccine.

Fenstersheib said people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develop severe headaches, stomach pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within the first three weeks of inoculation should visit their health care provider.

Contact Madelyn Reese at [email protected] or follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

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