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Colorado Pauses Use Of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

DENVER (CBS4)- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment paused the use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine "out of an abundance of caution" on Tuesday. This comes in response to the joint announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA that they are pausing the use of the J&J vaccine, Janssen.

johnson janssen covid vaccine
(credit: CBS)

Federal officials recommended temporarily suspending the use of the vaccine after reports of 6 women between the ages of 18 and 48 in the U.S. who got rare and severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine. One of those women died. The federal government is allowing states to determine whether to pause use of the J&J vaccine. The CDPHE is "requiring providers to stop administration of the Janssen vaccine until additional information becomes available."

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment announced a short time later that they will follow the CDPHE recommendations to pause the use of the J&J vaccine. Centura Health in Colorado confirmed one patient is being treated for a blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine from a different provider.

University of Colorado law student Devon Case was supposed to get vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday. Now the pause could leave her in a bind.

"I was disappointed because I am in school and planning to travel abroad to Australia to visit my fiancé," she said.

She was counting on the one dose J&J shot because she didn't want a second dose to interfere with finals and her trip but falls in the age range of those who suffered blood clots.

"I'm 25 and it is definitely a concern that I have," said Case.

Less than one in a million people who have gotten that vaccine have developed the blood clots.

The CDPHE maintains that the adverse effects appear to be extremely rare. However, they did release this statement: Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago are at very low risk of serious side effects. Anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine within the last three weeks and who develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath should contact their health care provider. These symptoms are different from the flu-like symptoms people may experience after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare providers should report any adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Athens City-County Health Department Director of Nursing,
ATHENS, OHIO, UNITED STATES - 2021/03/09: Athens City-County Health Department Director of Nursing, Crystal Jones, 52, loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine being made available to residents. The Athens City-County Health Department collaborated with Ohio University to roll out the new Johnson & Johnson (COVID-19) Vaccine, which only requires one shot instead of two. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

"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 6 to 13 days after vaccination. 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," the FDA and CDC stated in a joint statement.

"I think if you have already had a Johnson and Johnson vaccine and you are more than three weeks out from having the vaccine I think the level of concern really should decrease to essentially zero at this point," said CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida.

Dr. Dave advised to keep an eye out for headaches, chest pain, abdominal pain or leg pain.

Case still hopes to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine explaining, "I think it's one of those risks that I think the numbers are pretty low and as long as ideally I would get it before I was traveling 18 hours on a flight."

The risk of getting a blood clot as a result of the J&J vaccine is reported to be far less than for those in a hospital with COVID-19.

The J&J vaccine makes up only a small portion of the COVID-19 vaccine allocation, with this week's total 9,700 compared to nearly 280,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna that Colorado expects to receive this week.

Those scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine will either receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead. The state's mobile vaccination buses, which have been administering only the Janssen vaccine, were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.

dick's sporting goods park
(credit: CBS)

Last week, a mass vaccination clinic at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City was paused because 11 people who received the J&J vaccine had adverse side effects. Two people were taken to the hospital and later released from the emergency department. Centura Health was administering the vaccine and paused the use of the Janssen vaccine at its drive-up vaccination clinics, instead only distributing the J&J vaccine at "ambulatory care and physician clinic settings."

The day after the incidents at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said those reactions experienced did not indicate problems with the vaccine.

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