The Pennsylvania Department of Health Tuesday notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers to pause administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine until at least April 20 following the recommendation out of an abundance of caution in a joint release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Department officials say they are taking these steps as a precaution until the CDC and FDA have time to review six incidents of rare blood clots that occurred within two weeks of receiving Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
The CDC is convening an emergency meeting tomorrow of the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices to further review cases for any details on the significance of this rare occurrence.
These six cases occurred in women between 18 and 48 who were among the 6.8 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
Officials also say this announcement shows that the federal oversight process of a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness is working, and all steps are being taken to protect Americans.
“While this announcement is challenging, it highlights the vaccine evaluation process,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.
“The CDC and the FDA are closely monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and if there is a cause for concern, they will take action because safety is paramount. This protocol should give all Pennsylvanians confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and individuals should proceed with getting vaccinated as soon as possible to fight the virus, particularly as our case counts rise.”
Individuals who have appointments scheduled to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination should keep those appointments. If you are not aware of which vaccine type you are scheduled to receive, be assured that effective immediately, providers will not be administering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.
If you received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine and have any health concerns, contact your health care provider.
People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of their vaccination should contact their health care provider.
The department also has sent communications to stakeholder groups and others who have received the J&J vaccine as a part of a special vaccination initiative.
While vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, Department of Health officials say they are working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient.