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NJ pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines after rare blood clot emerges as side effect

The state has paused the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in New Jersey today following the recommendation of federal health agencies with the rise of a rare and severe blood clot in six individuals who received the vaccine. – Photo by Parentprojectmd.org

Johnson & Johnson vaccinations for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been put on hold in New Jersey until further notice, said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli in a statement today.

This follows the recommendation made today by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to pause the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccines due to the rise of a rare and severe blood clot in six recipients. All of them were women between the ages of 18 and 48 who displayed symptoms 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

The type of blood clot found in the six afflicted individuals requires a different treatment from the drug heparin that is usually used for blood clots, which could otherwise cause fatal harm, said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a briefing today.

One of the individuals died and another in Nebraska has been hospitalized, according to an article from The New York Times. More than 40 states have already paused or recommended pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccinations.

“All New Jersey vaccination sites have been told to cancel or put on hold appointments for the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine until further notice,” Persichilli said in the statement. “For individuals scheduled to receive the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, the Department will work with all vaccination sites to make arrangements for the administration of an alternative two-dose vaccine.”

The Daily Targum previously reported that New Jersey expected to receive much fewer Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week due to many of them getting discarded following quality control issues found at the main factory manufacturing them. The state expected 15,600 of the vaccines this week.

As of yesterday, the U.S. has administered more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said Marks and Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat in the joint statement.

University President Jonathan Holloway previously said Rutgers will most likely receive only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for its vaccination sites, the Targum reported.

“The supply of the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is not critical to meeting the goal that all students be vaccinated,” said University spokesperson Dory Devlin.

Blood clotting cases following Johnson & Johnson vaccination appear to be extremely rare, but recipients of the vaccine are advised to contact their doctor if they experience severe headache, abdominal or leg pain or shortness of breath, they said in the statement.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold a meeting tomorrow to review the cases further and determine their potential significance, Marks and Schuchat said in the statement.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” they said in the statement. “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.”


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