Bristol Bay health organizations begin to administer Johnson & Johnson vaccines after pause

Apr 30, 2021

The single-dose vaccine is available through BBAHC and the Camai Community Health Center once again. The J&J vaccine will also be available in Iliamna Lake communities as early as this week.

The entrance of Kanakanak Hospital. February, 2021.
Credit Brian Venua/KDLG

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is available in Bristol Bay once again, after a two week pause.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation announced Friday that it has started to offer J&J shots again after the CDC and the FDA lifted a pause on the single-dose vaccine on April 23.

The CDC paused use of the J&J vaccine in mid-April, after six cases of abnormal blood clotting were detected in patients who received shots. The blood clots occurred mainly in women between ages 18-49. Those instances were extremely rare -- the CDC said that only seven cases were reported per million women in that age group who received the vaccine.

In the health corporation’s announcement Friday, it said that younger women might consider opting for either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines instead.

More than 11,000 Alaskans have received the J&J vaccine.

The health corporation received a small batch of the J&J vaccine in March. Prior to the pause, it prioritized those shots for people with allergies to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. As of Friday afternoon, it did not say how many people had received the J&J vaccine through the health corporation.  

In the Bristol Bay Borough, the Camai Community Health Center started to distribute J&J vaccines when federal health officials recommended ending the pause in April. Overall, it has distributed between 35-40 shots. 

As of mid-April, Camai had administered more than 600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, though that figure does not include shots given at large vaccine clinics held in recent weeks.

This week, Camai will administer second doses of vaccine for processor workers who are in the borough for herring season. Silver Bay Seafoods, the borough’s only onshore herring processor, will operate under a completely closed campus. According to Camai Director Mary Swain, Silver Bay has said all its on-campus staff will be vaccinated this season.

Southcentral Foundation expects to start administering J&J vaccines to its Iliamna Lake communities for the first time this week. 

Contact the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.