Following reports of six people developing a rare and severe type of blood clot after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”
The CDC will convene a meeting of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance.
Until further notice, the state of New York will stop administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses immediately, potentially delaying a brand new program to vaccinate college students, announced just yesterday.
On Monday, Cuomo announced that New York state was providing 21,000 vaccines to be administered to SUNY students and 14,000 vaccines to be administered at private colleges. The doses were meant for residential and non-commuter students who are leaving for the summer. The press release issued Monday indicated they were Johnson & Johnson one-shot doses.
But on Tuesday, following the CDC and FDA announcement, SUNY officials said they were looking for alternative vaccines for students.
“SUNY is following the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the New York State Department of Health to immediately pause, out of an abundance of caution, administering the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine,” said SUNY Chancellor James Malatras. “We are working with New York State to locate and receive alternative COVID-19 vaccines for our students. We urge all students with appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to contact their campus or vaccination site because alternatives have already been found in some instances.
“Our priority will always be the health and safety of our students. We encourage any student who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and is experiencing any health effects such as headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination to contact their campus or healthcare provider,” Malatras added.
“While we must not slow down the process of protecting our students from the COVID-19 virus, we must also do all we can to ensure their safety and health every step of the way. We will keep our campus communities informed as more information becomes available.”
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S.
The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.
Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that is typically administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. But in this situation, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.
State Health Commissioner Hoard Zucker said all vaccine appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccines today at New York state mass vaccination sites will be honored with the Pfizer vaccine.
“As the CDC and FDA have said, any adverse events related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘appear to be extremely rare’ and, ‘People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,'” Zucker said.
“I am in constant contact with the federal government and we will update New Yorkers as more information becomes available.”