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State, Local Health Departments Pausing Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Amid CDC, FDA Review

CHICAGO (CBS)-- State and local health departments have begun pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine until the FDA and CDC complete their review of blood clot cases, officials announced Tuesday.

The The FDA and CDC are recommending a pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

The agencies said in a statement Tuesday the CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to review six cases of "a rare & severe type of blood clot" in people who received the vaccine. The FDA will then review that analysis as it also investigates the cases.

"Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution," Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the statement.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said it is pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "out of an abundance of caution."

"IDPH has notified all Illinois COVID-19 providers throughout the state to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine at this time. In order to keep appointments, IDPH is strongly advising providers to use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines," IDPH said in a statement. "Per the federal health authorities, people who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Patients with other clinical questions should contact their health care provider."

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), Cook County Health, and Indiana State Department of Health all said they also would pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the CDC and FDA complete their review. CDPH said they are not aware of any local cases of blood clots after vaccinations.

The Cook County Department of Public Health has asked all Johnson & Johnson partners to pause using the vaccine as well.

People with appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week in Cook County instead will receive either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Anyone who does not want a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine should call 833-308-1988 to cancel or reschedule their appointment.

Anyone who already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and is experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot should contact their health care provider.

The Indiana State Department of Health said it will be sending the two-dose Moderna vaccine to its mass vaccination clinic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to allow shots to continue without interruption. The federally run mass site in Gary is administering the Pfizer vaccine.

"The department is also working with other clinics that were scheduled to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the immediate future," the department said in a statement.

As of Monday, over 6.8 million doses of the single-dose vaccine had been administered across the country.

The handful of cases the FDA and CDC are investigating occurred in women and involved a blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which was seen alongside low levels of blood platelets, according to their statement. Symptoms were seen 6 to 13 days after vaccination in the women, who were between the ages of 18 and 48.

"Treatment of 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," they said.

The agencies said the "adverse events" seem to be extremely rare, but that the pause is important so that health care providers can be made aware of the reactions and properly recognize and manage the cases, given the unique treatment required.

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