The US Centers for Disease Control and US Federal Drug Administration are recommending the US “pause” use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over blood clot concerns.
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the US. Of those inoculated with J&J, there have currently been six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine that the CDC and FDA are currently reviewing.
In these cases, the CDC explains, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.
“CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance,” the CDC stated. “FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”
People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.
“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare,” CDC states. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”
On Tuesday morning, Congressman Kai Kahele issued a statement saying he is closely monitoring the six individuals who have developed blood clots after receiving the J&J shot.
“Confidence in the vaccine is built on having a system that transparently addresses adverse events seriously, investigates them, and enacts data-driven decisions—which is exactly what our federal agencies are doing right now,” Kahele stated.