UPDATE: Summit County altering vaccination plans following Johnson & Johnson news

UPDATE: Summit County altering vaccination plans following Johnson & Johnson news

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - County health officials in Northeast Ohio continue to revise their plans following the temporary hold of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They’re also looking ahead at the possibility of needing an annual COVID-19 shot.

“We are quickly trying to vaccinate as many individuals as possible,” Donna Skoda, Summit County Public Health Commissioner said Friday during a Facebook Live discussion. Skoda provided updates on how the county’s vaccination plans have changed following this week’s Johnson & Johnson news.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the J&J COVID-19 vaccine not be used right now while a rare blood-clotting issue was investigated.

The problem in Summit County is that the mass vaccination site at the county fairgrounds in Tallmadge was using only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Skoda said the county was quickly able to switch to using the Pfizer vaccine to keep the site going. But, that now means having to give people two doses of the vaccine instead of one.

County health officials continue to revise their plans following the temporary hold of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
County health officials continue to revise their plans following the temporary hold of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (Source: Summit County Public Health)

It may seem like a setback, but there is a silver lining. Teens who are 16 or 17 years old can now go to the fairgrounds to get vaccinated, since Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine they can get right now.

The switch to Pfizer will happen at the fairground’s next vaccination day on Sunday, April 18.

While the county has a vaccination plan in place for right now, what happens if we all need to get vaccinated again for COVID-19 in six to 12 months?

“Everything that we’ve always known about coronaviruses is that it tends to be a short-lived immunity,” said Dr. Erika Sobolewski, the medical director for Summit County Public Health said during the county’s Facebook Live discussion Friday.

That means getting a COVID-19 vaccine could become a yearly task, much like getting a flu shot.

“It looks to be that it’ll be a similar type of shot that you need these annual boosters. This has been such a novel change for the virus to know what that will actually look like, but it looks like that might be the direction that we are heading,” said Dr. Sobolewski.

If you are still in need of getting your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, plenty of appointments are still available for this Sunday, April 18. The site will also be accepting walk-ins.

If you would like to make an appointment head to https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/ or call 1-833-427-5634.

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