Following a national call, the Texas Department of State Health Services is asking all COVID-19 vaccine providers to pause the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at area distribution sites.
This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration advised that Johnson & Johnson vaccinations should be paused after six U.S. women developed blood clots after receiving the injections.
Those clots were observed along with reduced platelet counts — making the usual treatment for blood clots, the blood thinner heparin, potentially “dangerous,” per a joint CDC and FDA statement. One woman died, another was hospitalized. The women were aged between 18 and 48; symptoms presented within 13 days.
In a statement released April 13, Texas DSHS notes, “these adverse events appear to be extremely rare and are being further evaluated to ensure vaccine safety. People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their healthcare provider.”
Austin Public Health — which has admittedly struggled with getting area residents accurately signed up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with many recent appointments going unfulfilled — uses the Moderna vaccine, and is therefore not affected by the new call for pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, though DSHS encourages Texans to check with vaccine distribution sites regarding any scheduling changes.
More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects. And DSHS notes that none of the reported blood-clot cases were in Texas, where more than 500,000 doses of the J&J shot have been administered, and the agency has not been notified of any changes in vaccine distribution at this time.
The CDC will meet on April 14 to discuss the cases and the FDA has also launched an investigation into the cause of the clots.