SLO County halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine over blood clot cases

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

In line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations, San Luis Obispo County is halting the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine while federal officials investigate six cases of women developing a rare type of blood clot after receiving the shot.

As of this week, health care workers have administered more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine nationwide. About 2,200 doses of the shot have been administered at SLO County’s mass vaccination clinics.

Following vaccination, six women in the United States developed a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). The women ranged in age from 18 to 48, and the blood clots formed about six to 13 days after vaccination.

Health officials say the adverse reactions appear to be extremely rare, and the CDC and FDA are recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

“Our goal is always to ensure that the vaccines are safe; we are focused on the health of our community and will continue to administer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at our mass vaccination clinics to fight and prevent COVID-19 diseases,” County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said in a statement. “While adverse events like these blood clots appear to be extremely rare, we appreciate the agencies’ full focus on the health of our communities and will await further guidance from the CDC and the FDA before administering any further doses of the single-dose vaccine.”

County officials say the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will ensure that health care providers are aware of the potential for blood clots to occur and under the appropriate treatment if and when they do. 

“If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination, you should contact your health care provider,” Borenstein said. 

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