Several government and private providers in the Northwest have paused use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine effective immediately after six women who had received the vaccine developed blood clots.
According to a Washington state Department of Health news release, the vaccine will be on hold until the state receives recommendations from the FDA and CDC.
According to the release, six women out of the 6.8 million people nationwide who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have experienced the side effect, which is a fraction of a percent of people who have been vaccinated. A cause has not been identified, but health officials say it could be a rare immune response.
In Washington State about 160,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have been administered. According to the release, the Department of Health is not aware of any Washington patients that have experienced blood clots.
At least two Idaho agencies have also announced a pause on the use of the J & J vaccine, the Department of Health and Welfare and the Idaho Panhandle Health District.
“There’s a concern that this reaction might be similar to happened in Europe with the Astra Zeneca vaccine because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is similar to that vaccine. That is one reason why the CDC and FDA have jumped on this so quickly and recommended this pause and that we support the pause," said Idaho state epidemiologist Christine Hahn.
She says the reactions appeared six-to-13 days after the people have received their shots. She says the symptoms of those who had reactions are severe headache, problems with breathing and severe abdominal and leg pain. She advises people who have some of these symptoms to contact their physicians or go to urgent care if they’re concerned.
For those who are scheduled to receive a shot of Johnson and Johnson, Hahn suggests they reschedule appointments and receive doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead.
Among the private entities announcing a pause is Safeway. It’s part of the federal Covid vaccine program. David Green, the director of pharmacy operations for Safeway-Albertsons, says the supermarket chain administers mostly Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but J & J has been used in special cases, especially in Alaska.
“We hosted a clinic in Dutch Harbor for fishermen. It made sense there because a lot of these fishermen, they weren’t going to be able to come back to shore for three-to-four weeks to get their second doses," he said.
Anyone who received the vaccine more than a month ago is at low risk of complications. Those who have received the vaccine in the last three weeks should contact a healthcare provider if they experience severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath.