Kansas to resume use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after revised federal guidance

Mike Stucka Andrew Bahl
Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas will resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Monday, falling in line with new federal guidance reported last week.

Kansas will resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a federal advisory panel recommended last week that the shots were safe to use.

Virtually every state halted the use of the vaccine on April 13 to fall in line with federal guidance after six individuals developed blood clots as a possible side effect. 

More:Kansas will stop using Johnson & Johnson vaccine following federal guidance over possible side effect

None of those cases occurred in Kansas, but Health Secretary Lee Norman said at the time that it was better to be safe and follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

But the two agencies met again last week and recommended the shots again be used after a data review, with officials noting the benefits outweigh the potential risks. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Monday they would follow suit.

Officials are underscoring the safety of the vaccine and encouraging residents to get the shots.

"After a brief pause and a thorough review, the CDC and FDA have determined the vaccine is safe and effective," Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement. "Whether it’s the Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer or Moderna, I strongly encourage every Kansan to get vaccinated as soon as they can.”

More:'The benefits outweigh the risks': It's time to allow J&J's COVID-19 vaccine again, public health experts say

The state is next set to receive 1,700 Johnson & Johnson doses the week of May 3.

No doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine went bad during the temporary pause in Shawnee County, said Craig Barnes, division manager of the health department's Community Health Outreach and Planning program, in a Friday email. 

Barnes said the county was waiting for approval from both the CDC and KDHE before it would begin administering the shot again. 

COVID-19 cases down in Kansas over last week

The state reported 1,476 new cases of coronavirus in the week ending Sunday, down 9.7% from the previous week . Then, 1,634 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 were reported.

Kansas ranked 45th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week coronavirus cases in the United States decreased 13.8% from the week before, with 407,147 cases reported. With 0.88% of the country's population, Kansas had 0.36% of the country's cases in the last week. Across the country, 11 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across Kansas, cases fell in 46 counties, with the best declines in Sedgwick, Shawnee and Butler counties.

Shawnee County reported 94 cases and three deaths in the latest week. A week earlier, it had reported 133 cases and five deaths. Throughout the pandemic the county has reported 17,293 cases and 358 deaths.

>> See how your community has fared with recent coronavirus cases

Kansas ranked 25th among states in share of people receiving at least one shot, with 41.8% of its residents at least partially vaccinated. The national rate is 42.2%, a USA TODAY analysis of CDC data shows. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are the most used in the United States, require two doses administered a few weeks apart.

In the week ending Sunday, Kansas reported administering another 140,399 vaccine doses, including 50,046 first doses. In the previous week, the state administered 176,477 vaccine doses, including 79,468 first doses. In all, Kansas reported it has administered 1,956,276 total doses.

>> Track coronavirus cases across the United States

Within Kansas, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Clark, Pawnee and Marion counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Johnson County, with 367 cases; Sedgwick County, with 313 cases; and Wyandotte County, with 130. Weekly case counts rose in 34 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Marion, Douglas and Cowley counties.

In Kansas, 15 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 14 people were reported dead.

A total of 308,883 people in Kansas have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 4,924 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 32,077,178 people have tested positive and 572,200 people have died.

The Capital-Journal's Blaise Mesa contributed to this report