CENTRAL VALLEY, California (KSEE) – California paused the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday after both the FDA and the CDC recommended states do so, following six reported cases of rare but serious blood clots across the country. More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered so far in the U.S.
The FDA and CDC are investigating the blood clots suffered six to 13 days after vaccination by six women between the ages of 18 and 48.
“It really allows both the FDA and CDC to further investigate these cases to try to understand some of the mechanisms of what it is, some more details about the history of the individuals who were involved and might shed some light on looking forward what will happen and what we will do,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
According to the Fresno County Department of Public Health, around 20,000 doses of the more than 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses the county has administered have been Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“In perspective, this is still considered an extraordinarily rare development in the overall scheme of vaccinations,” Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said.
Vohra said if someone has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and is feeling fine weeks later, they should not worry.
He said people should watch out for these symptoms:
- Persistent headache
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Persistent leg pain
- Shortness of breath
“If you are having persistent headaches, persistent abdominal pain, leg pain, anything that’s really unusual but persistent, meaning more than 24 to 48 hours, then you might want to get that checked out and see if it’s related,” Vohra said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is one of the more than 6.8 million people who have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the U.S. He said the pause will not affect their plan to make all Californians 16 and older eligible to get the vaccine on April 15.
“It will not materially impact our ability to fulfill our expectations and commitment to provide enough vaccine to fully vaccinate all those who seek to get vaccinated,” Newsom said.
Joe Prado, who is leading the vaccine distribution effort in Fresno County, said they had events planned that involved 2,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. They are now working to replace those doses with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
“We’re really just planning for the full week to use Pfizer or Moderna as a backfill,” Prado said.
At the Sierra Pacific Orthopedics vaccination site, Director of Sports Medicine Rick Lembo said they decided to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday and are now only administering the Pfizer vaccine.
In Tulare County, Carrie Monteiro with the county’ Health and Human Services Agency said she didn’t know exactly how many doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the county – but said that it was minimal.
“Anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we’re advising residents to keep an eye on your symptoms if you have developed a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving your vaccination, we urge you to contact your doctor or healthcare provider,” Monteiro said.
Monteiro added that they will be shifting the vaccine clinics they had for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week to the Pfizer vaccine.