J&J VACCINE PAUSE: Federal regulators are recommending that states hold off on administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while health experts look at six reported cases of people who had severe blood clots after getting the vaccine. That’s out of more than 6.8 million people who got the vaccine.
The delay prompted the head of the state’s medical society to argue that the vaccine program in Massachusetts must be fair.
"While we recognize that the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will cause an interruption of the goal to vaccinate as quickly as possible, we must continue to prioritize equity in distribution and trust that our federal and state leaders will make necessary adjustments in allocation of available vaccine to ensure that our most vulnerable and most disproportionately affected patients and communities remain a priority," said Dr. David Rosman, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
To date, J&J vaccines account for a relatively small share of doses administered in Massachusetts. The State House News Service reports that 192,920 people have received that single-dose J&J shot, while more than 2.8 million have had at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
The pause on the J&J vaccines is expected to last a few days. Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said the number of cases of blood clots shows the problem to be "extremely rare."
BY THE NUMBERS: Berkshire County’s confirmed case count rose by 22 on Tuesday, to 5,925, the state Department of Public Health said. No new deaths were reported, leaving the total at 281. A week ago, the death total was 279 and the case total was 5,704. A month ago, the death total was 264 and the case total was 4,946.
The DPH said 7 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 17,068. Confirmed cases rose 1,401 to 622,662.
NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES: 35,857 statewide, compared to 34,652 a week ago; 656 active cases in Pittsfield, compared to 535 a week ago; 347 Pittsfield households are in quarantine. It was 277 a week ago.
WESTERN MASS. PICTURE: The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up 3 to 2,333 (110); Hampshire, up 19 to 8,661 (284); Hampden, up 197 to 48,136 (up 2 to 1,471).
HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for 8 COVID-19 patients, up from 4 a week ago and 3 a month ago; no cases were reported at Fairview Hospital. Statewide, 714 people are hospitalized, down from 725 a week back. Of those hospitalized, 165 are in ICU and 100 are on ventilators.
WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 137,053,483, with 2,951,588 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 31,325,853 cases and 563,267 deaths.
LEADING INDICATORS: The DPH provides the following statistics as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Tuesday’s figures:
– Seven-day average of new confirmed cases: 1,460. That is down from 1,579 on Feb. 15.
– Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 2.42. That is up from 2.19 on Feb. 15.
– Seven-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 715.3. That is down from 1,258 on Feb. 15.
– Seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 8.3. That is down from 38.9 on Feb. 15.
JUST THE FAQS: The Berkshire Eagle is regularly updating answers to frequently asked questions about access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the Vax FAQs in the Coronavirus section on the home page at berkshireeagle.com.
COVID-19 WEBSITE AND INFOLINE: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, when you are eligible, visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org.
INFORMATION ON TESTING: “Stop the Spread” testing sites are open at three Berkshire Health Systems locations. Tests will be conducted for any reason, with the state picking up the cost. To schedule a test, call the toll-free hotline, 855-262-5465, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Locations are: Pittsfield, 505 East St., St Luke’s Square, adjacent to BHS Urgent Care Center; North Adams, 98 Church St., next to the city library; Great Barrington: 475 Main St. Tests can also be obtained through CVS by filling out a form online.
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