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Louisiana halting use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines

The Chief Medical Officer for the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that Louisiana is halting use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in the administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating clots in six women that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. The clots were observed in the sinuses of the brain along with reduced platelet counts — making the usual treatment for blood clots, the blood thinner heparin, potentially “dangerous.”Kanter confirmed that starting Tuesday, Louisiana will not administer the J&J vaccine until further notice. “Today’s pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is out of an abundance of caution. This morning, I had a call with White House officials and other governors to discuss this issue as we work to safely get as many Louisianans 16 and older vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. While I understand that this news may be concerning, I remain committed to working alongside public health experts to make sure people can get the answers they need to make an informed decision,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Right now, there are two safe and effective vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — available and being administered in Louisiana and I encourage everyone in Louisiana to keep their appointments and to take advantage of the vaccines we have available. Nearly 1 million Louisianans have already completed their vaccinations against COVID-19. There have been around 85,000 Johnson and Johnson doses administered in Louisiana and no reported cases of this rare blood clot that we are aware of,” Gov. Edwards said. “In the short term, this means some community vaccination events may have to be rescheduled or shifted to use Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for now and working with the team from the Louisiana Department of Health and health care officials, we will continue the important work of administering vaccines.”“While this news is frustrating and concerning, we appreciate the FDA acting with abundant caution and transparency,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s State Health Officer. “We do not yet know whether these reported cases of blood clotting were caused by the vaccine. The State of Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously, and this temporary pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended.”As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, LDH is temporarily pausing in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, chest pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,” LDH said in an issued statement. Minor side effects are a normal sign the body is building protection. Side effects may include pain and swelling in the arm, fever, chills, tiredness or a headache. Most side effects will go away in a few days or less. Vaccine availability of Pfizer and Moderna will continue uninterrupted.Ochsner Health released the following statement on the decision to pull the vaccine: “Today, the FDA and CDC released new guidance recommending that healthcare providers pause the administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. This decision was made so that reports of a rare type of blood clot, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, could be investigated to determine if there is a correlation between the vaccine and this medical condition. Although this blood clot is exceptionally rare – only impacting six patients out of 6.8 million doses given – use of this vaccine is being paused out of an abundance of caution until more information is available.”Ochsner Health learned of this guidance this morning and has halted use of the J&J vaccine at all mass vaccination events, community sites and clinics effective immediately. Patients who were scheduled to receive J&J at an Ochsner vaccination site will now receive Pfizer or Moderna. Any patients impacted by this…

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