‘Very rare occurrence’: Alabama to pause use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine over blood clot concern


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama health officials said Tuesday that the state will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further instructions from the CDC and FDA.

The Alabama Public Health Department held a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the latest around usage of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris will discuss how the state plans to respond to the side effects behind the the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

U.S. health agencies asked vaccination sites Tuesday morning to stop offering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after multiple people developed blood clots. The decision to pause use of the vaccine comes after the U.S. had already used the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on nearly 7 million people, according to the New York Times.

Six people in the U.S. developed blood clots within two weeks of getting the vaccine. All six of the patients were women between the ages of 18 and 48.

According to reports, one woman died from a possibly vaccine-related clot. Another is in critical condition.

Alabama will pause the use of the vaccine until further instructions from the CDC and FDA.

Harris said the FDA and the Alabama Public Health Department will meet on Wednesday to discuss immunize practice and will review data to determine whether the blood clots are associated to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Over 300 providers have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Alabama. Of the nearly 160,000 doses that have been shipped to the state, 71,297 have been administrated to residents.

“We know that all of the vaccine products can sometimes give temporary vaccine reactions where people will have headaches, nausea, or feel bad in someway,” Dr. Harris said. “But we have had no reports of anything like the Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis that we talking about here.”

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, the term referring to the kind of blood clots that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have caused. Harris said that these side effects are a “very rare occurrence,” but ask those who have received the vaccine to “monitor yourself and see if you have any symptoms that you find concerning, and if so, please talk to your health care provider.”

If someone received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine three weeks ago, Harris said he does not believe there are any risks to worry about.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine currently is the only vaccine that can be administrated with a single shot. The Moderna & Pfizer vaccines are a double dose, so Harris asks that residents make sure they are up to date with their shots.

“At this time, we feel that this is a very rare and unlikely to affect most people at all if it is a true association,” Harris said. “But out of an abundance of caution, we wanted to make sure that we are being very careful.”

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