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Valley group’s mission to build vaccine trust may be harder with J&J pause

Boxes of the COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – A community group based in Phoenix believes they will have to work harder to build vaccine trust among diverse communities with health agencies recommending Tuesday a pause for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clots in a small group of people who got the shot.

This comes after the OneCommunity Initiative held vaccination events since early March throughout Phoenix featuring the single-dose shot that has been put on hold.

“We’re disappointed that we’re in this situation where we’ve been working very hard to create fair and equitable access to get the vaccine in diverse underserved communities that have been hit the hardest and that are experiencing higher levels of hesitancy to get the vaccine,” Tomas Leon, interim CEO of the Equality Health Foundation, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Following the recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Equality Health and HeroZona Foundations announced they would pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

To date, the OneCommunity Initiative has not been made aware of any participants vaccinated at their sites who have experienced adverse side effects.

The community group is working with Walgreens and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, with guidance from the Arizona Department of Health Services, on which vaccine will be used for their upcoming events on April 17 at Phoenix Sunnyslope Senior Center and at South Mountain Community College moving forward.

“While the reports of blood clots are very rare occurrences, it is important to operate out of an abundance of caution to protect public safety while the FDA and other entities investigate the issue further,” Leon said.

People can go online to stay updated on the foundations’ decisions regarding the vaccine or call 888-587-3647 for event details.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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