Johnson & Johnson vaccines paused in Oklahoma

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

State health officials are asking for a pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of rare blood clotting responses in six people across the country. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have asked all of our vaccine sites to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine immediately while we gather more information,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye in a Tuesday statement. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued recommendations early on Tuesday citing severe blood clot complications. All six cases of the complications reported in the U.S. have been from women between 18 and 48 years old with symptoms occurring about two weeks after receiving the single-dose vaccine. 

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., with about 62,000 of them administered in Oklahoma. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have not been affected. 

The CDC has recommended the pause until a committee can convene on Wednesday to analyze the complications.  

“We feel it best to pause administration of this vaccine in alignment with the CDC and FDA’s recommendation until more data on this potential adverse reaction is available.” said Frye. 

Oklahomans 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 are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html. 

For Oklahomans who already have scheduled Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is working with those providers to offer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as alternatives. Providers that currently don’t have Pfizer or Moderna on-hand will reach out to reschedule.