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WUPHD resumes Johnson & Johnson use

HANCOCK — With the lifting of the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is resuming its use.

Both Johnson & Johnson and Moderna will be available at a public mass vaccination clinic at Michigan Technological University Thursday. The clinic is free and will be open to people 18 and over.

To schedule an appointment for the Tech site, go to https://bit.ly/3vrrNfP

To find other upcoming clinics, go to westernuphealth.org.

The department has also used the Johnson & Johnson vaccines in cases such as traveling to homebound people where a two-dose vaccine would be more difficult.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called last week for use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to resume after it had been halted due to the discovery of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clotting among the 7 million who had received the vaccine.

After a safety review, the FDA and CDC expressed confidence the vaccine was safe and effective. The FDA’s fact sheet for providers and recipients of the vaccine was revised to include information about the clotting risk.

As of April 22, 45.4% percent of Houghton County residents over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to WUPHD, slightly below the 45.7% rate for the five-county area. Ontonagon County has the highest rate locally at 53.1%, followed by Keweenaw County (52.4%), Houghton and Baraga (38.7%).

While having largely escaped the spike in cases seen in parts of downstate in February and March, parts of the Copper Country are still seeing a noticeable decrease. Houghton County is on a 16-day downtrend trend, according to state data. The seven-day average of 82.5 cases per million is the lowest in the county since Aug. 27.

All counties in the Copper Country are below the 189.5 cases per million seven-day average for the U.P., ranging from 47.8 for Ontonagon County — trending down for 43 days — to an upward 184.7 for Baraga County. The statewide average is 377 cases per million, on a 17-day downward trend.

WUPHD has also begun using Patient Education Genius (PEG) software to investigate COVID-19 cases.

Once the department is notified of a positive case, PEG will text or email the person with an online survey. They will be asked things such as demographics, symptoms, onset date of symptoms, and close contacts. This will be used to help identify people who need to be isolated and quarantined.

The survey will not include any private information, such as Social Security numbers. People who do not respond to the survey may get a followup call or letter from WUPHD staff.

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