Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are so proud to be at the forefront of the COVID-19 community vaccination efforts – COVID-19 is a truly deadly disease and even when it doesn’t kill, it too often causes severe short and longer term medical problems. We are so fortunate that the biomedical research / scientific community have developed 3 vaccines authorized to combat COVID-19 – helping get these life-saving shots into people’s arms is one of the highest priorities for VNA. Out of an abundance of caution we have paused the administration of the Johnson and Johnson / Janssen vaccine at all of our locations due to today’s guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The CDC and FDA are recommending pausing administration of any new vaccinations with the Johnson and Johnson / Janssen vaccine because they are investigating reports of very rare, but serious blood clots that may be associated with the vaccine.
At this time, our understanding is that these possible issues have been limited to 6 individuals out of 7 million people who have received the vaccine. For anyone who has already received the Johnson and Johnson/ Janssen vaccine, there is no new advice and nothing new for you to do other than the existing advice you received which is to seek medical care if you are experiencing any new or unusual signs or symptoms of illness including abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, or severe headache. Our nursing and medical leaders at VNA are paying close attention to further reports or guidance on this issue and will reach out if there are new communications or recommendations. We are grateful the incidence of these issues appears exceptionally low and that the safety monitoring and surveillance systems seem to be able to identify even a rare issue. We do not yet know if this will be a very brief or prolonged pause or stoppage for this specific vaccine.
We continue to be comfortable with the safety and effectiveness of the available vaccines and we are advocates for our employees and community members to get vaccinated if/when possible and available. Our advocacy is based on the high levels of effectiveness and low levels of severe adverse reactions in the large and well done clinical trials and real world experience with the vaccines since they’ve been approved. We have seen and understand the death and complications caused by COVID-19 and believe the risks of the vaccine side effects are far lower than the risks of unchecked COVID-19. We will continue to follow the relevant reports, guidance, and analyses from our state and Federal health officials and are prepared to adjust course if there’s new information.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused so much death and suffering, it’s been especially hard on people who were already vulnerable / at-risk due to age, medical, or socioeconomic reasons. We are proud to be a part of the efforts to fight back against this terrible disease, and we will continue our efforts to help people access COVID-19 vaccines.
Yours in Service,
Steven Landers, MD, MPH
President and CEO, VNA Health Group
Kristine McCoy, MD, MPH
Chair, VNACJ Children & Family Health Institute
COVID-19 Physician Taskforce Lead
CEO, VNACJ Community Health Centers
Terry Shlimbaum, MD
Chief Medical Officer, VNACJ Community Health Centers