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Johnson & Johnson vaccine suspended to investigate rare blood clots

(Tuesday, April 13) Federal health officials on Tuesday recommended temporarily pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine while reports of very rare blood clots are investigated.

The Food and Drug Administration reports that six women, between the ages of 18 and 48, developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine. One of them died and another is in critical condition, the FDA said.

In light of the recommendation, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) said Tuesday it will temporarily stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

CCHS said it is closely following guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding this vaccine. Because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a very small part of Contra Costa’s vaccine allocation from the state and federal governments, CCHS said it does not anticipate cancelling any of its vaccination appointments at this time.

CCHS continues to administer the other vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., from Pfizer and Moderna.

Patients who have vaccination appointments through CCHS are asked to attend at their scheduled time.

CCHS officials said they are not aware of any reported cases of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccine in the county that were inconsistent with those documented during the extensive clinical trials conducted to ensure the safety of all vaccines used in the U.S.

The risk of an adverse reaction for people who received Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than a month ago is extremely low, according to the CDC.

People who received this vaccine more recently should contact a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms such as severe headaches, severe abdominal pain, severe leg pain or shortness of breath – these symptoms are different than the usual, minor reactions that some people may experience in the day or two following their vaccination.

The FDA has not received any reports of similar side effects associated with the use of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.