The CT Department of Public Health followed in the steps of the U.S. FDA and CDC Tuesday morning, April 13, issuing a statement to recommend that vaccine providers pause administering the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine after six reports of an extremely rare, adverse blood-clotting reaction to the vaccine.
Although these events are rare, and none have occurred in Connecticut, the CT DPH recommended the pause “for the time being while the FDA and CDC complete their review.”
The DPH officials said that of 6.8 million individuals who have received the J&J vaccine nationally, six individuals have developed a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) within two weeks of receiving their vaccine. All six cases occurred among women between ages 18–48 years.
It’s an extremely rare occurence, with only approximately 0.00000088% of the J&J vaccines administered in the U.S. linked to the blood-clotting condition. None of the roughly 100,000 Connecticut residents who’ve received the J&J vaccine have reported serious adverse events.
“The CDC, FDA and Connecticut DPH all take vaccine safety extremely seriously. Although the reported complications are extremely rare, we will await the results of the investigation before proceeding with further use of the J&J vaccine,” the statement said.
DPH has informed vaccine providers that were planning to hold clinics using J&J beginning Tuesday, and in the coming days to delay these clinics or offer an alternative vaccine if they have alternative vaccines available. Some cancellations are expected to occur although state health officials said they’ll work with providers to minimize the disruptions related to the J&J vaccine “in the near-term to the extent possible.”
Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, told the Hartford Courant that CT providers are working to either administer alternative vaccines or reschedule appointments.
“What we’re seeing is that many providers are successfully rescheduling those appointments to offer either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. There probably will be some [cancelations], but we’re hopeful the number will be very limited,” Geballe said.
The DPH statement also reiterated FDA and CDC cautions for anyone who received the J&J vaccine to be alert for side effects, which they say “are extremely rare.”
“People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,” the statement said.