WASHINGTON (KSNW) — Kansas is following the U.S. recommendation to pause administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after some reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating clots in six women that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots were observed in the sinuses of the brain along with reduced platelet counts — making the usual treatment for blood clots, the blood thinner heparin, potentially “dangerous.”
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman talked about the development at a briefing with The University of Kansas Health System.
“So, it’s a small number, but you can’t turn a blind eye to something as significant as that. We, therefore, are falling in line with that. We have not had a case of that reported to our knowledge through event reporting system in Kansas,” said Dr. Lee Norman.
Dr. Norman said he doesn’t believe that this will be a big setback because of the reduced number of J&J doses coming into Kansas.
KDHE has asked providers with J& J vaccine to pause administration of the vaccine immediately and to place the supply into storage while material is reviewed. After KDHE has reviewed the findings from the federal government, further guidance will be given to providers on next steps.
Those who have received the J&J vaccine should contact their health care provider if they have any symptoms and report any illness to the VAERS Reporting System. They are recommending that people who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health care provider.
Kansas Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine clinics canceled
- Reno County: The J&J COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday, April 14 at the Sports Arena is canceled.
- Barton County: The Barton County Health Department will not be offering the J&J vaccine at the drive-through event on Wednesday, April 14. The Moderna vaccine will be available to those individuals who are scheduled for their boost dose, and anyone who would like their primary dose at the following times.
- Sedgwick County: The Sedgwick County Health Department is halting the J&J vaccines scheduled for Tuesday at the clinic. Anyone who scheduled an appointment for the J&J vaccine will be offered Pfizer.
- Cowley County: The Cowley County Health Department out of an abundance of caution will suspend the administration of J&J vaccine
Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns, Health Director Adrienne Byrne, and Deputy County Manager Tim Kaufman answered questions about the J&J vaccine. A stream is available below and on the county’s Facebook page.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.
The other two authorized vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, make up the vast share of COVID-19 shots administered in the U.S. and are not affected by the pause.
An emergency meeting of the CDC’s advisory committee has been scheduled for Wednesday.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a joint statement.
The FDA said the pause of the vaccine is to last a ‘matter of days.’ The J&J vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA in late February with great fanfare, with hopes that its single-dose and relatively simple storage requirements would speed vaccinations across the country. Yet the shot only makes up a small fraction of the doses administered in the U.S. as J&J has been plagued by production delays and manufacturing errors at the Baltimore plant of a contractor.
Last week the drugmaker took over the facility to scale up production in hopes of meeting its commitment to the U.S. government of providing about 100 million doses by the end of May.
Only about 9 million of the company’s doses have been delivered to states and are awaiting administration, according to CDC data.
Until now concern about the unusual blood clots has centered on the vaccine from AstraZeneca, which has not yet received authorization in the U.S. Last week, European regulators said they found a possible link between the shots and a very rare type of blood clot that occurs together with low blood platelets, one that seems to occur more in younger people.
The European Medicines Agency stressed that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the risks for most people. But several countries have imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine; Britain recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives.
But the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines are made with the same technology. Leading COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the spike protein that coats the outer surface of the coronavirus. But the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines use a cold virus, called an adenovirus, to carry the spike gene into the body. J&J uses a human adenovirus to create its vaccine while AstraZeneca uses a chimpanzee version.
The announcement hit U.S. stock markets immediately, with Dow futures falling almost 200 points just over two hours before the opening bell. Shares of Johnson & Johnson dropped almost 3%