Virginia to pause all Johnson & Johnson vaccinations until CDC, FDA investigation complete

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This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia health and government officials announced Tuesday morning that the Commonwealth will pause all use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration finish investigating a possible side effect of the vaccine.

The CDC and FDA released a joint statement on Tuesday, April 13 saying they were investigating unusual clots that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination for six women between the ages of 18 and 48. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets.

According to health officials, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. as of Monday, April 12, the vast majority of which resulted in no side effects or mild side effects.

However, Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted Tuesday morning that Virginia would follow the federal government’s new guidance and temporarily halt all use of the vaccine until the CDC and FDA complete their investigation.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) released the following statement from Virginia State Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula about the pause on Tuesday:

“We are closely monitoring the actions by the federal government to pause all Johnson & Johnson vaccinations while it investigates an extremely rare possible side effect. In Virginia, we will cease all Johnson & Johnson vaccines until this investigation is complete. If you have an upcoming appointment for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will be contacted to reschedule that appointment.

This pause is reassuring in that it demonstrates that the systems that are in place to monitor vaccine safety are working. We look forward to a thorough review by federal health officials. Meantime, we will continue Virginia’s vaccine rollout at this time with the other two authorized vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna.”

U.S. health authorities recommend people who received the J&J vaccine who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the shot contact their healthcare provider.

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