Frederick County health officials are hopeful that the number of vaccinations at a Frederick Community College clinic can be ramped up in coming weeks, even as the Food and Drug Administration recommended the precautionary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a small number of patients who received it experienced blood clots.
The clinic at Frederick Community College provided 2,300 people with their first dose of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday, a number Dr. Barbara Brookmyer of the Frederick County Health Department said could rise sharply if more vaccine doses become available.
“We're just waiting for more vaccine to arrive, but we're very excited about today's increased numbers that we'll be serving,” Brookmyer said.
While it's not a state-operated facility like ones in Hagerstown, Baltimore and elsewhere, the FCC site is now supported by the state.
County officials reached an agreement with Maryland that the state would provide more vaccines than the site would normally be allotted under its proportional share in return for agreeing to also vaccinate people who had signed up in the state's pre-registration system, Brookmyer said.
The extra doses have allowed them to vaccinate whole families together and sometimes even multiple generations of families, she said.
More than 25 percent of Frederick County's population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Frederick County Health Department.
There have been 88,468 first doses administered, 54,146 second doses and 11,744 single doses administered to Frederick County residents as of Tuesday, according to the health department.
But Maryland advised vaccine providers Tuesday to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further notice due to extremely rare blood clotting found in less than one in one million people who received the J&J shot. Health officials and members of the Biden administration are hopeful the pause will be for just a matter of days or one week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA said Tuesday they were investigating unusual clots that occurred in six women of the more than 7.2 million adults who’ve received the Johnson & Johnson shot, the Associated Press reported. One of the patients died, and another remains hospitalized in serious condition.
The county health department said it has canceled vaccination clinics for the week that were supposed to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The clinics will be rescheduled, officials said.
The state's mass vaccination site in Hagerstown, which had used the J&J vaccine on occasion, will switch to the Pfizer batch.
Tuesday's announcement caused the postponement of a clinic scheduled to be held at the Vigilant Hose Company in Emmitsburg, which was to be run through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Organizers had almost 300 people signed up for Johnson & Johnson vaccinations in the next three days, but they didn't want to proceed while there were questions about the single-dose J&J vaccine, said Frank Davis, an Emmitsburg town commissioner who helped organize the event.
Health and town leaders will do their best to reschedule the event, he said.