By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
hochman@montclairlocal.news

New Jersey coronavirus vaccine distribution sites will pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as the CDC and FDA investigate rare reports of blood clots in some women who received it.

Montclair Township's health department had been administering the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine to homebound people and senior residents, in clinics at multiunit residences and in directly scheduled appointments, township spokesperson Katya Wowk said. Anyone scheduled to get the J&J vaccine will be contacted to make other arrangements, she said.

Essex County recently added Montclair to a program to transport seniors to one of its own vaccine distribution sites, at the Steven Adubato Sports Complex in Branch Brook Park in Newark, where seniors would have received the J&J vaccine as well. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said Tuesday any seniors taking part in that program would instead get the two-dose Moderna vaccine.

Wowk said while Montclair's health department expected to be able to register seven to 10 seniors per week for the county help, none had registered yet.

The county had distributed both J&J and Moderna vaccines at some of its own distribution sites, including one at the former Kmart in West Orange available to Montclair residents.  Residents who have scheduled J&J appointments at the former Kmart, or at a former Sears building in Livingston, would be offered the Moderna vaccine instead, DiVincenzo said.

"Unfortunately, our mobile sites at churches, senior buildings, community centers, shelters, boarding homes and homebound residents will be rescheduled," DiVincenzo said.

Mountainside hospital has not been administering the J&J vaccine, spokesperson Chiara Marababol said. The hospital recently partnered with Montclair Public Schools and the township to vaccinate about 200 district staffers.

CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid, each of which have been administering vaccines at some stores, also said they'd pause use of Johnson & Johnson pending further federal guidance.

The CDC and FDA urged the pause early Tuesday, after finding six reported cases — among nearly 7 million doses administered in the U.S. — of women between the ages of 18 and 48 developing blood clots after getting the J&J vaccine. Symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state would pause administration of the vaccine at all sites "out of an abundance of caution." All New Jersey sites have been instructed to halt its use. She said the state would work with distribution sites to reschedule appointments, for either the two-doze Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Local and state officials urged anyone with concerns after taking the J&J vaccine to contact their health providers.