COVID: Contra Costa County puts J&J vaccine on hold

Contra Costa County health officials Tuesday suspended use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after federal regulatory agencies recommended a pause in its administration over a rare side effect that can cause blood clots.

Contra Costa Health Services said it is “closely following guidance” Tuesday morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the vaccine, and will continue to administer the other vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., from Pfizer and Moderna.

Contra Costa appeared to be the first Bay Area county to suspend use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. Santa Clara and Alameda county health officials had no immediate response Tuesday morning whether they would do likewise, and the state public health department has yet to comment on the vaccine.

The CDC and FDA issued a joint statement Tuesday saying that after more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the U.S., they are reviewing data involving six reported cases in the country of a “rare and severe type of blood clot” in people who had received it.

Those cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. One of them has died.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a different technology than those by Pfizer and Moderna, which were authorized earlier. Those vaccines require deep refrigeration and a second dose three or four weeks later, making administration more challenging.

By contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require special refrigeration and involves only a single dose. Because of that, it was seen as a boost in the nation’s effort to quickly vaccinate the population against COVID-19 before new variants render vaccines less effective.

Contra Costa County health officials said that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “is a very small part of Contra Costa’s vaccine allocation from the state and federal governments,” and that they don’t anticipate cancelling any vaccination appointments.

Those who have booked vaccination appointments through Contra Costa Health Services should attend at their scheduled time, they said.

Health officials said they were unaware of any reported cases of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccine in Contra Costa County that were inconsistent with those documented during the extensive clinical trials conducted to ensure the safety of all vaccines used in the U.S.

The risk of an adverse reaction for people who received Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago is extremely low, according to the CDC.

People who received this vaccine more recently should contact a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms such as severe headaches, severe abdominal pain, severe leg pain or shortness of breath – these symptoms are different than the usual, minor reactions that some people may experience in the day or two following their vaccination.


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Author: John Woolfolk

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