Pause of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Expected to Last Days, Not Months

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

SOUTH JERSEY — On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration announced in a joint statement that use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine model should be paused as the government investigates rare cases of blood clots in women aged 18 to 48. That pause isn’t expected to be a long-term issue by top government officials.

“I don’t think this is going to drag out,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today.” “Don’t worry very much. It’s a very, very rare event.”

Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 experienced blood clots shortly after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The women in question also had lower platelet counts, and these side effects prompted the United States’ government to recommend a pause in use of the vaccine as it investigates potential causes of the clotting.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday to discuss these six cases, and the FDA will also conduct its own investigation into the issue. Dr. Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said that the decision to pause use of the vaccines was made “out of an abundance of caution” and expects the pause to be a short-term issue.

“I believe [the pause] was necessary for a couple reasons,” Dr. Fauci said. “One, to investigate these a bit more — to make sure we get much more of the details and the granular details — but also, it’s important during this period of pause to alert physicians on the outside who see women or men who might come in with a clotting disorder like this.”

Throughout his appearances on NBC, Dr. Fauci reiterated that the six blood clotting incidents are very rare, and community members who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine weeks ago have nothing to worry about. However, those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more recently should be on the lookout for potential symptoms of blood clotting, which include severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of their vaccination.

Eight hundred doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were administered during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Cumberland County last week. On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a pause in use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further notice.

Dr. Fauci reiterated that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of doses administered throughout New Jersey and the United States, are safe.

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