NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In response to U.S. health agencies' recommendation to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the Metro Public Health Department says it will now give the Pfizer vaccine at its drive-thru vaccine site.
Metro’s new drive-thru vaccination site in South Nashville opened on Monday. The old Kmart on Murfreesboro Pike had previously been one of Metro's three assessment centers.
Health officials were giving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at that location. However, on Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a pause in the use of J&J’s vaccine "out of an abundance of caution."
In a series of tweets Tuesday morning, the FDA said it was recommending a pause after receiving reports that six people developed "rare and severe" blood clots after receiving the vaccine.
Officials say all six cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, and their symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.
Now, Metro says it will administer the Pfizer vaccine at its Murfreesboro Pike vaccination site. If you’re scheduled to receive the vaccine there, Metro Health says it will contact you with more information.
In response to the news from the @US_FDA and @CDCgov, those with appointments at our drive-thru vaccination site at the former Kmart at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike will receive the Pfizer vaccine instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. https://t.co/8MqWI2aqVF pic.twitter.com/tlycFZwWwW— NashvilleHealth (@NashvilleHealth) April 13, 2021
So far, nearly 7 million Americans have received a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases," the FDA said in a statement Tuesday.
Anne Schuchat, M.D., principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters Tuesday that people who got the J&J vaccine over a month ago likely aren’t at risk for blood clotting.
During her remarks, Schuchat noted that the type of pain experienced would be “different” than the flu-like symptoms typically experienced after COVID-19 vaccines. She didn’t expand on how the pain would be different.
For those have already received a J&J vaccine, officials say you should contact your heath care provider if you develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.
As for what’s next for the J&J vaccine, the CDC says it will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these blood clot cases and assess their potential significance. The FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases.
Metro-Nashville's COVID 19 Task Force Chairman Dr. Alex Jahangir says he hopes this decision leads to an increase in vaccine hesitancy. "I don’t have the data to know what triggered it, but I have confidence in the process and I have confidence in whatever process plays out in the next few days for them to determine what needs to happen next," said Dr. Jahangir.
Jahangir says the CDC and FDA's decision to take a step back only shows that they're serious about keeping everyone safe while getting people vaccinated. "It gives me confidence that the federal government has safety mechanisms in place that if something really worries them, they’ll raise their hand and take a pause. I think as a country we need to have faith in these organizations and these processes. And if we don’t this all goes for nothing," said Jahangir.
The Metro Public Health Department will also continue to operate the vaccine clinic at the Music City Center, where the two-dose Pfizer vaccine is being administered.
Residents may also call the COVID-19 hotline at 615-862-7777 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day for more information on COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. Vaccination appointments in Davidson County can be made online by clicking here.
* The Scripps National Desk contributed to this report.