Announcement follows F.D.A. and C.D.C. recommendation as six women develop unusual blood clots days after receiving the vaccine
Following the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), Los Angeles County is pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “out of an abundance of caution,” officials announced Tuesday.
The federal recommendation came after reports of six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developing unusual types of blood clots six to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. As of Monday, 6.8 million Americans have received the single dose shot.
“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),” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C., and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a joint statement Tuesday. “Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, 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.”
Though federal authorities say the adverse reactions “appear to be extremely rare,” people who received the vaccine in the last three weeks should contact their medical provider if symptoms of these clots develop, including severe headaches, abdominal or leg pain, and shortness of breath.
The pause in L.A. County will last until the F.D.A. and C.D.C. complete their review, which is expected to take several days. Vaccine providers in the county will contact patients about rescheduling or providing a new appointment for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
The pause “will not have a significant impact” on the Biden administration’s vaccination plan, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said during a press briefing Tuesday.
While Johnson & Johnson vaccines make up less than 5% of doses administered so far, the federal government has secured “more than enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue the current pace of about 3 million shots per day,” Zients said. “And that puts us well on pace to meet the president’s goal of 200 million shots by his hundredth day in office.”
Officials now worry that this pause could further increase vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, said the “pause is a testimony to how seriously we take safety.”
Similarly, Zients said the public should feel reassured that the F.D.A. “will be very diligent and conservative in how they approach the vaccines.”