States rush to interchange J&J vaccine appointments after FDA recommends pause
More than two dozen states took steps Tuesday to stop vaccinations of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine shortly after the Food and Drug Administration recommended discontinuing use after some women reportedly developed a rare bleeding disorder had.
States, like the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stressed that they are proceeding with great caution as more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine have been injected by J&J and so far only six cases of blood clotting have occurred have been reported.
J&J said in a statement that “no clear causal link” was found between the rare type of blood clot and the vaccine, adding that it is working closely with regulators to evaluate the data.
New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the state will “immediately” stop giving the single-dose J&J vaccine and instead use Pfizer’s two-shot vaccine for appointments already scheduled.
At least 25 other states, as well as Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, also announced that they are removing J & J’s vaccine doses from their distribution plans.
Those precautionary measures may not stay in place for long, however: Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said Tuesday she expected the hiatus to only last a few days.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s assistant chief executive officer, noted Tuesday that people who received the J&J vaccine more than a month ago are at very little risk of developing blood clots. All six reported cases occurred in women aged 18 to 48 whose symptoms developed within two weeks of receiving the shot.
The New Jersey Department of Health said all vaccination centers in the state have “been instructed to cancel or postpone appointments for the J&J vaccine until further notice.” The agency said it will work with these sites to replace J&J appointments with an alternative two-dose vaccine.
Virginia “will discontinue all Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” while the FDA is investigating the “extremely rare potential side effect,” according to a statement from state vaccination coordinator Dr. Danny Avula.
The Connecticut Department of Health recommended all Covid vaccine providers to “discontinue” use of J & J’s vaccine while the FDA and CDC complete their review.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and senior health officials in his state issued a similar advisory opinion.
The Massachusetts Department of Health has announced that all vaccine providers in the state will cease administering the J&J vaccine “with immediate effect.”
The other states are Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.