At the recommendation of U.S. health authorities, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force has suspended the use of Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
Additionally, CHCC announced that they won’t be moving forward with administering the Janssen vaccine for the elderly population—60 years and older—this Saturday at the System of Care in San Antonio. Instead, they will be using the Moderna Inc. vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended halting the use of the Janssen vaccine yesterday after receiving reports of six U.S. cases of side effects from the vaccine—a rare and severe type of blood clot, with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination.
As of April 14, there has been only 49 individuals who have received the Janssen vaccine in the CNMI. According to press secretary Kevin Bautista, no one in the CNMI has reported any adverse side effects from the vaccine.
“For people who got the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk to them is very low at this time. For people who recently got the vaccine– within the last few weeks—they should be aware of any symptoms,” said Bautista.
He added that CHCC has yet to see any adverse effects with the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. Until the CDC and FDA announce that it is safe to use the Janssen vaccine again, CHCC will only be administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Bautista added.
CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña commends CDC and FDA for “acting quickly and decisively.” Muña says their decision proves that their commitment to safety is a priority.
“We share that commitment and that is why we immediately paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines,” said Muña. She added that CHCC, the administration, and the task force are in constant communication with CDC and FDA to get the latest updates on all the vaccines.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said that, while there are no cases of blood clots reported in the CNMI, the administration and CHCC continue to trust federal and local public health officials. Torres also commends Muña and public health officials for monitoring the situation closely and following the recommendation of CDC and FDA.
“We will continue to trust in our federal and local public health officials throughout our vaccine rollout as they remain an important tool in protecting our community from serious illnesses. We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated through the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which remain available here in the CNMI,” said Torres.
One traveler test positive for COVID-19
CHCC announced yesterday that another traveler has tested positive for COVID-19, raising the CNMI’s cumulative total to 161.
CHCC says the individual was identified by travel screening and confirmed through fifth day testing. The individual has been safely in quarantine and was moved to the designated isolation area for close monitoring.
The CHCC has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts of the new confirmed case, including passengers on the same flight.