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Pennsylvania Pauses Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - Pennsylvania is following the CDC and FDA's recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam says the state Department of Health notified vaccine providers to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until at least April 20.

"To date, 6.8 million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That means that one in a million people receiving this vaccine have been affected by this issue. However, safety is our paramount concern and we are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution," said Beam.

The FDA and the CDC issued a statement regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Tuesday morning.

The FDA says that of the nearly 7 million doses that have been given, there were six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot reported after receiving the vaccine.

According to the New York Times, six women between the ages of 18 and 48 have reportedly developed rare disorders involving blood clots within two weeks of being vaccinated. One of the women died and a second has been hospitalized in Nebraska, according to the Times.

The FDA says they are recommending a pause of the use of the vaccine while the cases can be investigated.

One of the largest single dose events in the Pittsburgh area was supposed to happen with UPMC on Wednesday, but those plans are changing.

"We are not canceling any clinics. Our commitment is as we receive vaccine, we will put it in arms as quickly and safely as we can," said UPMC Chief Nursing Officer Diane Hupp.

With 12,000 J&J vaccine appointments over the next two days, it was a mass scramble when news broke that the FDA was putting a pause on the distribution.

"At this point, I don't really know. I might schedule another appointment for my wife and I," said Blake Campbell.

Campbell is set to get his shot at the Pittsburgh Mills mall on Wednesday morning. He was hopeful to get that single shot.

"I still would have been okay with it. Looking at it, it's such a small number of people having experienced it. I would have been fine with it," Campbell said.

While UPMC is following that directive and putting a pause on the J&J, the health system will instead be distributing the Pfizer vaccine to Campbell and the thousands of others who scheduled at the mall clinic.

"I think there will be some individuals that may have hesitancy getting the vaccine but knowing that we won't be giving J&J,it will be Pfizer and the safety and ethics of Pfizer has been known," Hupp said.

For those people that want to cancel their appointment and not get the Pfizer vaccine, Hupp encourages them to get back on to watch for clinics with a different dose.

Beam says preliminary information shows that none of the blood clot cases happened in Pennsylvania.

"I want to emphasize that all Pennsylvanians should proceed with getting vaccinated as soon as possible to fight this virus," said Beam. "Individuals who have appointments scheduled to receive Pfizer or Moderna should keep their appointments."

Beam says people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last three weeks and develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath should immediately contact their health provider.

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