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The New Mexico Department of Health on April 13 announced that Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine distribution would be paused, following federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration recommendations.
Six “rare and severe” blood clots — out of about 6.8 million administered doses — occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48 in the U.S. The adverse symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. One of the women died, and another was hospitalized in critical condition.
“New Mexico, like the federal government, is acting out of an abundance of caution,” said state DOH Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins. “As we learn more, we will share that information.”
Already scheduled J&J vaccinations were canceled or shifted to Pfizer and Moderna.
People who have received the J&J vaccine and develop severe headache, blurred vision, seizure, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health-care provider.

Students quarantined
At the April 12 Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Sue Cleveland told the board there had been an increase in students being quarantined.
“(There were) quite a few quarantines from Friday and today,” she said.
Facilities Director Melanie Archibeque added that areas occupied by people who tested positive had been disinfected.
“The state is looking at surveillance testing of students,” Cleveland said, “particularly athletics.”
Later, she noted an article in the Albuquerque Journal that reported Eldorado High School in Albuquerque was closing its campus and switching to virtual learning for two weeks after several students tested positive for COVID-19. Cleveland said a paragraph noting that RRPS had “about 500 students and nearly 40 teachers and staff members potentially exposed to the coronavirus” starting quarantine April 5 resulted in her receiving phone calls from concerned parents.
Cleveland told the Observer, “They don’t all have COVID,” but were being quarantined after coming in contact with a staff member or classmate who’d tested positive. And RRPS had to report live — not via text, phone message or email — to parents of students who might have been exposed.
Noting a few of the bigger recent quarantines: On April 12, 82 Lincoln Middle School students and four staff members headed to quarantine, with the library, five classrooms and a portion of the cafeteria disinfected; 61 Rio Rancho Middle School students and five staffers were quarantined, with five classrooms disinfected; and 87 Rio Rancho Elementary fourth-graders and seven staff members were quarantined, with five classrooms and a portion of the cafeteria disinfected.
On April 14, Vista Grande Elementary reported 60 second-graders and a staff member were quarantined, with two classrooms and a school bus disinfected.
Quarantines have been reduced from 14 days to 10 days, and students learn online during that time.

Collins testifies in D.C.
Collins testified April 15 before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband.
She discussed New Mexico’s efforts to disseminate accurate, timely information about vaccine safety to rural areas and communities of color — as well as to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer