Following the joint recommendation from the Center for Disease Control and Food & Drug Administration, vaccination clinics across the country are now pausing their administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the CDC and FDA, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. Both organizations are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine.
In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). The CDC says that 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 might typically be administered. 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.
Locally, area health departments are following the recommendation and ceasing their administration of the vaccine. Announcing their decision through social media account, the Madison County Health Department is offering the Moderna vaccine to individuals who previously had an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The Estill County Health Department is still vaccinating those 18 years of age or older with their supply of Moderna vaccines.
The Laurel County Health Department is also pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccines at their clinic.
Despite the pausing of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Governor Andy Beshear is still recommending that Kentuckians keep their appointments to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
The CDC has announced that they will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) later today to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. Review of that analysis will be performed by the FDA as it also investigates these cases.
The recommendation will remain in effect until that process is complete. The CDC says this is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.