CDC, FDA: Let’s Pause Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have called on health care providers to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after reports of a rare blood clot developing in some patients. 

There have been six cases of a rare type of blood clot, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). What makes this clot so dangerous is that it blocks the brain’s venous sinuses, according to Johns Hopkins, which prevents blood from draining out of the brain and could cause a hemorrhage. Worse, the typical drug used to treat blood clots, heparin, is too dangerous to use in these cases. 

All six of these cases have occurred in adult women, age 18–48, and symptoms (which may include fainting, headaches, blurred vision, and seizures, among other things) occurred about one to two weeks after vaccination, according to a joint statement Tuesday from the CDC and FDA

A CDC advisory committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the potential significance of these cases. As of April 12, 6.8 million-plus doses of Johnson & Johnson, which was approved for emergency use (note: this does not mean official and final approval) on February 27, have been administered. About 500,000 of those doses have been in Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, but no related blood clot cases have been reported in the state. 

After the CDC conducts its review, the FDA will then review the CDC’s analysis of the safety of the vaccine. While this is happening, the two organizations recommend that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not administered. 

According to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, people scheduled to receive Johnson and Johnson at the mass vaccination site at NRG Park will instead receive Pfizer. 

In the meantime, if you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC and FDA are asking you to monitor your symptoms. “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,” according to the statement.

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