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Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause won't stall Northwest Arkansas effort, organizers say

by Stacy Ryburn | April 17, 2021 at 7:36 a.m.
Otis Michaud, right, talks to Deshon Walker an RN. after getting his covid shot as his brother James Michaud talks with RN. Lisa Martinez just before getting his shot Friday April 16, 2021 on the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville. The brothers who were in the army and now live in Centerton got their second Moderna vaccinations. They had learned about being able to get the vaccines in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)

The covid-19 vaccination rollout in Northwest Arkansas will continue without delay despite the national pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, health professionals and clinic organizers say.

The majority of shots going in arms in the region have been Pfizer or Moderna. But residents who got the Johnson & Johnson shot, which is one dose, shouldn't worry, doctors say.

Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville has given about 24,000 Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses to veterans and their families, according to Crystal Davis, public affairs officer. The hospital stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson doses following a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration announcement Tuesday.

Six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot were reported out of about 6.8 million people who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Federal authorities recommended a pause to allow time for further research.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state would follow the recommendation, and any Johnson & Johnson vaccines would be replaced with Pfizer or Moderna shots.

The veterans hospital in Fayetteville says it has enough Moderna shots to make up for the Johnson & Johnson shots. Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks has been administering about 1,300 shots weekly during its Monday through Friday drive-through clinics and Saturday walk-in clinics, Davis said.

Benton and Washington counties had 84,042 residents fully vaccinated against covid-19 as of Friday, while another 62,896 had received the first of two doses, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The two counties have a combined population of 384,234 residents 16 and older, so about 22% of that group have been fully vaccinated while about 16% are halfway there.

By comparison, 604,225 people 16 and older in the state have been fully vaccinated, with 345,797 halfway there. That equates to 25% fully vaccinated and 15% with one of two doses among more than 2.3 million people 16 and older in the state.

Community Clinic started receiving Johnson & Johnson doses a few weeks ago, but primarily administers Pfizer and Moderna among its 15 Northwest Arkansas locations, said Judd Semingson, chief executive officer.

On Tuesday, Community Clinic partnered with the Northwest Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Council for a vaccination event at the Rogers Convention Center. The plan was to administer 500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Following the announcement that morning, Community Clinic worked with the Northwest Arkansas Council and local health providers to replace the doses with Pfizer, Semingson said.

Community Clinic also has a mobile unit that was using Johnson & Johnson. The unit goes where it's likely to catch groups of people, such as the Office of Motor Vehicle and homeless encampments or shelters.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was especially helpful for vaccinating people experiencing homelessness, said Jessica Andrews, chief executive officer of 7 Hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville. Residents living outdoors or in shelters have difficulty traveling, so getting a second shot within a few weeks can prove difficult, she said.

A recommended second shot for the Pfizer vaccine is about three weeks, and for Moderna, it's four weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I know there's a window, and it doesn't have to be exact, but even so, that puts a lot more pressure on Community Clinic or whomever to be available frequently to catch everybody," Andrews said.

The University of Arkansas administered 4,050 Johnson & Johnson doses to students at the time of the pause, leaving 850 doses in storage, according to Zac Brown, assistant director of communications with the Pat Walker Health Center. There are 25,847 total students enrolled this semester.

The announcement leaves the university without an on-campus vaccine option for students, he said. Past mass clinics were held at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. School officials are exploring ways to provide a Pfizer or Moderna option, Brown said. The last day of classes for the spring semester is April 29, with final exams happening May 3-7.

People who received the Johnson & Johnson shot should not live in fear, said Dr. Marti Sharkey, Fayetteville's public health officer.

Symptoms such as fever, muscle aches or headaches within a day or two of receiving the shot are normal, she said. If someone experiences severe conditions such as extreme headaches, abdominal pain or shortness of breath two to three weeks after receiving the shot, medical attention should be sought.

The chances of experiencing those symptoms weeks after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are highly unlikely, Sharkey said. Based on cases discovered thus far, blood clotting is even rarer, she said.

"You're more likely to be struck by lightning," Sharkey said.

Not enough information is known yet about the six women who experienced blood clotting after receiving the shot, she said. Factors such as smoking or taking birth control or having a rare genetic predisposition all could have played a role in their reactions, Sharkey said.

Opportunities to get vaccinated will continue next week in Northwest Arkansas.

Washington County had 223 new virus cases from April 10 through Friday. That's an increase of 135 new cases from the week before. Benton County had 197 new cases April 10 through Friday. That's an increase of 56 from the week before.

Washington County had 218 active cases Friday. Benton County had 201.

So far, covid-19 has killed 756 people in the two counties, according to Health Department data.

The state has authorized anyone 16 and older as eligible to receive a covid-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Pfizer recipients be 16 and older and Moderna recipients be 18 and older.

Otis Michaud gets a covid-19 vaccine shot from Deshon Walker, a registered nurse at the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville, on Friday, April 16, 2021, on the VA hospital campus. Michaud's brother, James Michaud, was in the passenger seat. The brothers, who were in the Army and now live in Centerton, got their second Moderna vaccination. They had learned about being able to get the vaccine in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
Otis Michaud gets a covid-19 vaccine shot from Deshon Walker, a registered nurse at the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville, on Friday, April 16, 2021, on the VA hospital campus. Michaud's brother, James Michaud, was in the passenger seat. The brothers, who were in the Army and now live in Centerton, got their second Moderna vaccination. They had learned about being able to get the vaccine in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
James Mayes gets vaccinated by RN. Lisa Martinez, Friday April 16, 2021 on the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville. Mayes drove an hour and half form Holiday Island to get his second Moderna vaccinations. He learned about being able to get the vaccines in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for today’s photo gallery.
 (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
James Mayes gets vaccinated by RN. Lisa Martinez, Friday April 16, 2021 on the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville. Mayes drove an hour and half form Holiday Island to get his second Moderna vaccinations. He learned about being able to get the vaccines in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
James Michaud gets vaccinated by RN. Lisa Martinez Friday April 16, 2021 along with his brother Otis Michaud on the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville. The brothers who were in the army and now live in Centerton got their second Moderna vaccinations. They had learned about being able to get the vaccines in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for today’s photo gallery.
 (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
James Michaud gets vaccinated by RN. Lisa Martinez Friday April 16, 2021 along with his brother Otis Michaud on the VA Hospital campus in Fayetteville. The brothers who were in the army and now live in Centerton got their second Moderna vaccinations. They had learned about being able to get the vaccines in the VA's newsletter. Check out nwaonline.com/210417Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)
Where to get vaccinated

Arkansans can call (800) 985-6030 for appointment information. The following pharmacies and health care organizations in Northwest Arkansas are providing vaccines:

• Cornerstone Pharmacy, 1 Mercy Way, Suite 50, Bella Vista, (479) 876-6200

• Harps Pharmacy, 1209 N. Walton Blvd., Bentonville, (479) 273-5541

• Heartland Pharmacy, 1735 W. Walnut St., Rogers, (479) 631-0204; heartland-rx.com

• Debbie’s Family Pharmacy, 5403 Pinnacle Point Drive, Rogers, (479) 271-6300; debbiesfamilypharmacy.com

• Austin Drug, 118 Main St. N.E., Gravette, (479) 787-5432

• Teasley Drug, 205 Atlanta S.E., Gravette, (479) 787-5966; teasleydrug.com

• Collier Drug, 991 W. Centerton Blvd., Centerton, (479) 795-8199; collierdrug.com

• Harps Pharmacy, 201 Hwy. 412 West, Siloam Springs, (479) 549-3200

• Collier Drug, 100 W. Dickson, Fayetteville, (479) 442-6262; collierdrug.com

• Medical Arts Pharmacy, 2515 E. Huntsville Road, Fayetteville, (479) 443-3411; medartspharmacynwa.com

• Heartland Pharmacy, 1450 E. Zion Road Suite 1, Fayetteville, (479) 444-7200; heartland-rx.com

• Community Pharmacy, 400 W. Emma Ave., Springdale, (479) 750-2220; communitypharmacyspringdale.com

• Harps Pharmacy, 2894 W. Sunset Ave., Springdale, (479) 751-0882

• Heartland Pharmacy, 701 S. Thompson St., Springdale, (479) 751-2072; heartland-rx.com

• Collier Drug, 197 E. Main St., Farmington, (479) 267-4303; collierdrug.com

• Collier Drug, 801 E. Douglas, Prairie Grove, (479) 846-2195; collierdrug.com

• Harps Pharmacy, 115 Lee St., Huntsville, (479) 738-2202

• Mercy Clinic, Patients may make appointments at mercy.net/VaccineAR or by calling (833) 364-6777.

• Washington Regional Medical System, Patients may make appointments online at www.wregional.com/covid19vaccine.

• People ages 16-21 can get vaccinated Arkansas Childrens Northwest. Patients or parents may make appointments by calling (479) 725-6995.

• Pharmacies at most Walmart and Sam’s Club stores are offering vaccinations. Go to walmart.com/covidvaccine or samsclub.com/covid to check availability.

Source: Arkansas Department of Health, Mercy Health System, Washington Regional Medical System, Walmart

Upcoming clinics

PUBLIC

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

Mercy Northwest clinic

4600 Mercy Lane, Springdale

Register online: bit.ly/mercyspringdalevax

10 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Monday through Friday

UAMS Northwest drive-through clinic

Annex parking lot, 1100 N. Woolsey Ave., Fayetteville

Register online: vaccinesignup.uams.edu/nwaclinic

Register by phone: (479) 332-0222

12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Washington Regional Medical Center drive-through clinic

3215 N. Northhills Blvd., Fayetteville

Register online: bit.ly/wrmcvax

3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday

UAMS pop-up clinic

St. Raphael’s Baptist Church, 1386 S. West End, Springdale

Register online: vaccinesignup.uams.edu/nwaclinic

Register by phone: (479) 332-0222

11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday

Benton County Fairgrounds auditorium

7640 S.W. Regional Airport Blvd., Bentonville

Register online: bit.ly/collierbencovax

Register by phone: (479) 935-4316

8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday

Northwest Arkansas Council walk-in clinic

Old Sears service center, Northwest Arkansas Mall, 4201 N. Shiloh Drive, Suite 98, Fayetteville

Register online: nwacouncil.org/nwavaccines

Register by phone: (479) 334-2929

8 a.m to 1 p.m. Thursday

Northwest Arkansas Council walk-in clinic

J.B. Hunt headquarters, Building C, 708 W. Apple Blossom Ave., Lowell

Register online: nwacouncil.org/nwavaccines

Register by phone: (479) 334-2929

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday

Northwest Arkansas Council walk-in clinic

J.B. Hunt headquarters, Building C, 708 W. Apple Blossom Ave., Lowell

Register online: nwacouncil.org/nwavaccines

Register by phone: (479) 334-2929

VETERANS

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday

Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks drive-through clinic

1100 N. College Ave., Primary Care entrance, Fayetteville

No appointment necessary.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks walk-in clinic

1100 N. College Ave., Building 21 laboratory area, Fayetteville

No appointment necessary.

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