Are the efforts to vaccinate all eligible Americans hitting a roadblock? On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came out to jointly recommend that the country pause the use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendation to pause its use comes after the revelation of six reported cases of a rare and serious type of blood clot that may form after receiving the immunization.
Six Cases Tied to Severe Blood Clots
While the six cases cannot be definitively tied to the use of the vaccine, government and health officials want to act out of an abundance of caution. The six cases are out of over 6.8 million doses of this particular vaccine that have been administered to Americans over the last month. All six of the cases happened in females between the ages of 18 and 48. The symptoms began to appear between 6 and 13 days following the vaccination.
What is Next?
In light of the news of the pause in the US, Johnson & Johnson also announced on Tuesday that it was proactively delaying the launch of the vaccine in Europe.
What Does the Announcement Really Mean?
Despite the recommendation from the CDC and FDA to pause the use of this particular vaccine, it will still be up to the individual states to make the final decision for their constituents. It is expected that most states will follow the recommendation to pause the use.
While states have control over their allocation of vaccines, all federal mass vaccination sites and community health centers will need to stop using the vaccine until further information is provided.
Signs to Watch Out For
Many Americans now in this three-week window following the Johnson & Johnson vaccination may be understandably concerned. Symptoms of an adverse reaction indicating blood clots include severe headache, leg or abdominal pain, or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these signs within three weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are advised to contact your medical care provider immediately.
It is important to keep in mind that the odds of developing this type of blood clot are still approximately one in a million. Health officials also note that the pause is in effect primarily because this type of side effect was not officially listed as a potential issue with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The pause is designed to give officials and medical researchers time to further understand the side effect.
White House Ensures Still Enough of Vaccine
Despite the news of the pause, the White House is still ensuring Americans that there will be enough supply of the vaccine to fully immunize all adults. President Joe Biden said that the incoming shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are more than enough to ensure that the vaccine goals will continue as planned.
According to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine accounts for less than 5% of the total number of recorded shots so far in the country. Zients also said that the nation was on track to receive 28 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week, helping to keep pace with the average of three million shots per day.