Georgia suspends use of single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine after blood clot concerns

Courtesy Johnson & Johnson

The Georgia Department of Public Health is suspending use of the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies as federal authorities study reports of severe blood clots in six of the more than 6.8 million recipients.

For people who have an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, DPH is working to provide other vaccines made by Pfizer or Moderna. But rescheduling of the appointment may be required, DPH said in a press release. The suspension of the vaccine will continue until further notice.

The state’s decision to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine follows advice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those agencies are reviewing reports that six recipients — all women between the ages of 18 and 48 — suffered a “rare and severe” type of blood clot six to 13 days after being vaccinated. None of those women were in Georgia, according to DPH.

The clot is called a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets, according to the federal agencies. That type of clot requires a different treatment than is usual for blood clots, so part of the reason for the pause is for the medical community to become aware of the possibility and prepare for it.

People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their healthcare provider, the federal agencies said.

The current amount of reports indicates the clotting situation is “extremely rare,” the federal agencies said. DPH said more than 124,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been “safely administered” in Georgia as of April 13.

DPH had a previous issue with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this month, when eight people had “adverse reactions” to it at a mass vaccination site in Cumming, as reported by Georgia Health News. DPH said that issue may have related to problems with keeping the vaccine cool. The reports of blood clots are unrelated to that situation, DPH said.

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