The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has paused dispensing of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at its vaccination clinics, following state and federal recommendations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while officials review data about an extremely rare type of blood clot that has been reported in six people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States.
All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, according to health officials. One woman died and another is in critical condition, Dr. Peter Marks of the FDA said in a media briefing today.
Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered, Marks said. 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, Marks said.
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered nationwide.
New York State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker said today the state will follow the CDC and FDA recommendation and pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine statewide immediately.
Suffolk County officials said this afternoon they are not aware of any cases occurring among the approximately 2,000 residents who have received this vaccine through the county health department thus far.
Any resident who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care practitioners promptly.
“While this issue appears to be extremely rare, CDC and FDA are acting in a very cautious manner that underscores our commitment to vaccine safety,” Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gregson Pigott said. “We will be closely monitoring the federal review process and use that information to help guide our efforts here in Suffolk County in the days ahead.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine represents about 2% of the total supply of vaccines the Suffolk County Department of Health has received to date, so the pause is not expected to dramatically slow the pace of vaccinations dispensed by Suffolk County, the health department said in a statement today. The Suffolk County health department does not maintain data on all vaccine providers in the county, so other dispensers may have received and dispensed additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the community.
Residents who currently have appointments to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should watch for a notification from their provider about canceling, postponing or rescheduling the appointment, the health department said. If your appointment is cancelled, you can look for other vaccination appointments through the vaccine Locator map, local pharmacies or your area.
CDC plans to convene a meeting of its advisory committee on immunization practices on April 14 to further review these cases and assess their potential significance, the county health department said. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates the cases.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County health officials will continue to dispense the allocations of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines that the county receives from New York State, the health department said.
“We are not seeing these clotting events in the [Pfizer and Moderna] vaccines,” CDC principal deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat said. Over 180 million doses of those vaccines have been administered to date.
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