Due to reports of dangerous blood clotting in the brain associated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, the CDC has recommended an immediate pause on using the experimental shot which, like all other COVID vaccines, has only been approved for emergency use.
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J shot have been administered across the nation, including more than 11,000 in Alaska. The CDC and FDA announced on April 13 that they are now investigating six reported U.S. cases of a “rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine.” All six reported cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48 with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after the shot was administered. The New York Times has reported that one of the women has died and a second has been hospitalized in critical condition in Nebraska.
The CDC is analyzing the six cases and their potential significance.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the CDC stated on April 13. “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.”
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The CDC warns that those who have received the J&J vaccine, and later develop “severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.”
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services hosted a media briefing April 13 to address the CDC warning.
As of April 12, there have been 11,178 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses administered in Alaska out of 35,500 doses allocated to the state. Alaska has had nine reports of adverse reactions to the J&J shot since April 2.
State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin repeatedly underscored that the blood clotting associated with the J&J appear to be very rare, and that all six of the identified cases are from the Lower-48. He added that those who did receive the J&J shot should be aware of adverse reactions and report them.
McLaughlin noted that the pause on the J&J shot could last a few days or weeks, or even longer.
“This will certainly increase the level of concern among some people,” he said, adding that the blood clotting concerns are related specifically with the J&J vaccine and not with Pfizer or Moderna.