KENTUCKY — Kentucky is pausing its use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday morning. Earlier in the day, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint statement recommending states pause using the vaccine after six recipients in the U.S., all women between the ages of 18 and 48, developed a rare disorder involving blood clots.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky pauses use of the J&J vaccine, Gov. Andy Beshear announces

  • The pause comes after a recommendation from the FDA and CDC

  • Beshear said Kentucky has "very little" of the J&J vaccine compared to Pfizer and Moderna

  • J&J vaccines in Kentucky primarily used in independent pharmacies, correction facilities, pop-up clinics

Beshear, in a video published on Twitter, noted that Kentucky has "very little" of the J&J vaccine compared to doses from Pfizer and Moderna, which he reminded are both safe and effective.

"Because of that, we need you to continue to keep your appointments, to get one of those two vaccines, and to help us reach the 2.5 million Kentuckians vaccinated goal so that we can ultimately get back to a normal and ease restrictions for venues and events under 1,000 people," he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Beshear, along with Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, addressed the news after attending a governor’s meeting with federal officials including CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and others. 

Beshear said those on the call were told the pause could last days or possibly a week; however, it likely won’t last any longer. He said the pause is to determine how many cases of the disorder are out there and to educate medical providers on the proper treatment for the clots.

“Obviously this isn’t good news, but it is also not crippling news for our vaccination efforts,” the governor said.

In Kentucky, the J&J vaccine has been primarily used in independent pharmacies, corrections facilities, and several other programs throughout the state, Beshear said. The state will work with independent pharmacies on getting them supplies if the pause lasts longer than a few days, and vaccinations will have to pause at corrections facilities and any outreach or pop-up clinics administering J&J.

He noted that, to his knowledge, clotting after the J&J vaccine has not been recorded in the Commonwealth.

The governor cautioned that the recommendation from the FDA and CDC comes after only six people out of 6.8 million recipients experienced the disorder.

"This is an abundance - even an overabundance - of caution," he said.

During the press conference, Beshear said there is “likely no reason to worry” for those who received the J&J vaccine, adding there is less than a one in 1 million chance for recipients to develop blood clotting.

Despite the low risk, Stack said anyone who receives the J&J vaccine and develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the shot should contact their healthcare provider.

Beshear said the state should be able to make up any loss of appointments due to the pause with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

No mass vaccination sites will close due to the pause, according to Beshear. The sites “by and large” administer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said.

As for those with appointments to receive the J&J vaccine, Beshear said to keep appointments that are four or five days out - for now. Appointments on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will not happen, he said. The governor urged people with J&J appointments to contact the provider and see if an alternative is available.

Beshear acknowledged the pause “doesn’t help” vaccine hesitancy in Kentucky.

“Our goal is gonna have to be communicate and communicate and communicate, especially with those that may have been leaning towards getting vaccinated if it was the J&J,” Beshear said. “What does this news do to their psyche or where they are?”

Vaccine distributors around Kentucky have announced their plans to pause the administration of the J&J vaccine. The University of Kentucky said it will temporarily pause administering the vaccine at the Gatton Student Center, and the Lincoln Trail District Health Department said it will pause planned clinics using the vaccine. The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said it will make a decision about its J&J vaccine clinic planned for Friday after the federal review of adverse reaction reports is held Wednesday, but appointments for the clinic will be paused. In Florence, Ky., the Northern Kentucky Health Department announced it will pause J&J vaccinations.