OSDH Officials Reacts To The Distribution Pause Of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

Tuesday, April 13th 2021, 4:58 pm
By: Erica Rankin

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced it asked all vaccine sites across the state to immediately pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.

This decision comes after the CDC and FDA recommendation early Tuesday that cited an occurrence of rare blood clotting responses in six Americans.

In a combined statement, the FDA and CDC said more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. as of April 12. CDC and FDA researchers are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

Treatment for this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

State health officials noted that none of the rare cases happened in Oklahoma but said they are taking it seriously, knowing it has happened in the U.S.

“We were not aware in advance this was coming or pending,” said Keith Reed, the OSDH Deputy Commissioner of Health.

To date, the state’s allocations of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been about 125,000 doses. Of those, the state has administered only about 62,000 which is about 2.5% of the total administration of vaccines in the state.

“We have Moderna and Pfizer in stock where we can substitute it in the clinics that were doing Johnson & Johnson,” said Reed.

If you are scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and your provider doesn’t have Moderna or Pfizer on hand, health officials suggested calling to reschedule.

After the CDC and FDA make a decision and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine comes back online, Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye said people should have faith it will be safe.

“I think initially, it will have an effect on uptake somewhat, but I think the fact they found this in six cases in over seven million doses is pretty remarkable,” Frye said.

If you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine recently, health care providers said to contact your health care provider if you develop severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks.