Oregon Health Authority issues pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine use

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has asked all of the state’s vaccine providers to immediately pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following an announcement this morning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The recommendation for a pause was made out of an abundance of caution as teams from the CDC and FDA review six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The measures announced today followed reports of six cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in women ages 18-48, with about 6.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered nationally to date. Symptoms in these patients began six to 13 days following vaccination. None of the reported cases were in Oregon.

The CDC is convening its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to review data at a public meeting.

This pause in vaccination is recommended until ACIP and FDA reviews are completed.

The blood clotting cases, reported in about one per million administered Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, were identified in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), which tracks vaccine safety monitoring nationally.

People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

Health care providers statewide have been asked to report adverse events to the VAERS online tracking system. The CDC and FDA statement reminds health care providers that the administration of heparin, normally used to treat blood clots, may be dangerous in the setting of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, and alternative treatments should be given.

As of April 12, 85,148 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses have been administered in Oregon and 213,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivered to vaccine sites statewide. The vaccine has been delivered to pharmacies, outpatient clinics, federally qualified health centers, local public health authorities and health systems.

A copy of the joint CDC and FDA announcement can be found here.