The U.S. Tuesday recommended a “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA investigate six cases of rare blood clots among the more than 6.8 million Americans who received the shot.
“This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot,” a joint statement from the CDC and FDA calling for the pause read.
All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.
“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare,” the statement read. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”
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 are asked to contact their healthcare provider.
The state asked vaccine providers, including in Dallas County, to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following the CDC and FDA recommendation.
“While no cases of blood clots have been reported in Texas, we are taking the reports of rare adverse effects seriously and are working to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines administered in our state continue to be safe and effective,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “I urge Texans who do experience adverse reactions, such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, to contact their health care providers or call 2-1-1 to receive a referral for a health care provider. Vaccines are a crucial tool to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and remain the most effective way to combat the virus in our communities. I continue to encourage Texans who wish to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to sign up.”
None of the cases of blood clots reported Tuesday occurred in Texas, where more than 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
“This is evidence that the system is working as it should and that the federal monitors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are watching vaccine reactions closely,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “Throughout North Texas, we will continue distributing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and will not distribute any Johnson & Johnson vaccine until such time as the federal government is done investigating the clotting reactions. Significantly, there is a far greater risk of clotting complications if you contract COVID-19 than if you take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will now be unavailable.”
The city of Dallas and the Visiting Nurse Association of Texas (VNA) also postponed the start of in-home vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the recommendation.
The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) predicted in February that 80% of Dallas County residents could reach immunity either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection by the end of June.
PCCI CEO Steve Miff told our sister publication D Magazine Tuesday that the county is still on pace to reach that goal despite the pause in use of the J&J vaccine.
“While the allocations for J&J were scheduled to increase and the latest developments will pause those vaccinations likely for several weeks, we forecast that Dallas county will continue to make progress at 2-2.5 percent per week, which maintains the pace for mid-June,” Miff told the magazine.
In other news:
- Dallas County reported 416 more COVID-19 cases and nine deaths Sunday and Monday, and 262 more cases and 21 additional deaths Tuesday. Additionally, the county reported 11 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. for a total of 57 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, six cases of the B.1.429 variant first identified in California, and one case of the B.1.526 variant first identified in New York.
- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state’s power grid, called for electricity conservation Tuesday because of a combination of high generation outages typical in April and higher-than-forecasted demand but called off its appeal by 9 p.m. Tuesday. The appeal comes two months after widespread power outages during the February winter storm.
- Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas College on Monday announced they have partnered with Cicero Group to conduct a study assessing the state of the city’s workforce.