U.S. pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccines after 6 rare, severe blood clots
By Tim Darnell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Major vaccination sites halt vaccine | NYC councilman calls pause ‘big setback’
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday morning they are recommending a pause in using the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine after six people suffered “rare” and “severe” blood clots after receiving vaccine.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA center for biologics evaluation and research, said one of those persons who suffered such a reaction has died, while another is in critical condition. Almost 7 million people have been given the J&J vaccine.
“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the agencies said, while The New York Timesis reporting federal health officials are also urging states to stop using the J&J vaccine.
All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination, according to Marks.
Several mass vaccination sites in major cities across the U.S. announced they were stopping the J&J vaccine’s administration, including Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida; and Arlington, Texas. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is advising all Ohio vaccine providers to temporarily pause using the vaccine.
Shortly after 9 a.m., New York announced it was pausing the vaccine’s administration, a move that New York City Councilman Mark Levine called “a big setback for vaccination” in his city. “Key components of our program here rely on J&J,” he said on Twitter.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said all appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be honored using Pfizer’s vaccine.
President Joe Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, Jeff Zients, said the pause “will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan” because J&J’s vaccine “makes up less than five percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date.”
The U.S. military also announced Tuesday morning it was pausing the vaccine’s distribution. “The safety of our force and their families is a top priority for the department,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told a Fox News reporter.
“We are aware that thromboembolic events including those with thrombocytopenia have been reported with COVID-19 vaccines,” Johnson & Johnson said immediately after the government’s announcement. “At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.”
An official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told a CBS News correspondent that Secretary Xavier Becerra was informed of the decision to temporarily halt the use of the vaccine Monday night.