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Indian Health Service pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine

April 14, 2021 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Indian Health Service is pausing its use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in Oklahoma and all other regions at the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration.

“Out of an abundance of caution, IHS has paused all Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine administration as they review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals receiving the vaccine,” the IHS said Tuesday in a news release.

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The agency said there have been no cases reported to IHS among people receiving the J&J vaccine.

IHS has administered more vaccine, more than 290,000 doses that include the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccine, in the Oklahoma City region than any of the other 10 IHS regions. IHS said about 1.5% of the vaccinations involved the J&J vaccine.

HEALTH COMMISSIONER

The Oklahoma State Senate on Wednesday confirmed Dr. Lance Frye, who has led the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic since May 2020, as commissioner of health.

“My number one goal throughout my term as interim commissioner has been to protect the health of Oklahomans. That won’t change as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and look toward the future of public health in our state,” Frye said in a statement.

Frye replaced former interim health Commissioner Gary Cox, whose nomination as commissioner was never taken up by the state Senate after several senators expressed concerns that Cox, an attorney, lacked the qualifications to be state health commissioner.

The qualifications include being a medical doctor or hold at least a master of science degree.

MASK MANDATES

The City Council in Oklahoma City on Tuesday did not vote as scheduled on a proposal to lift the city’s mask mandate, which is due to expire April 30.

The proposal to end the mandate was removed from the council agenda. City health officials have recommended keeping the mask requirement.

In McAlester, the City Council ended its mask requirement.

“Now that these vaccines are rolling out, I don’t think we need a mask-mandating ordinance,” Counciler Zach Prichard told the McAlester News-Capital. “I don’t want our mask mandate to be a disincentive to get vaccinated.”

VIRUS CASES

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Wednesday reported 406 new virus cases and 25 additional deaths, bringing the total number of infections to 444,288 and the statewide death count to 8,093 since the pandemic began.