On Friday, April 23, the CDC and FDA lifted a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. for all adults age 18 and older. The agencies concluded that the benefits of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks and that the chance of a blood clot is very low.
Use of the J&J vaccine was paused on April 13 as the CDC reviewed reports of a very rare blood clot identified in women ages 18 to 49. Information about the vaccine will now include details about the risks of the syndrome, which has occurred in a very small number of people who have received the J&J vaccine.
“Given where we are with the COVID-19 outbreak today in the U.S., it’s clear that on both the population health level and for individual health, the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compared to the risks of COVID-19 favor continued use,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County. “This recent pause and review process leave no doubt that vaccine safety for the U.S. population is the top priority for our national COIVD-19 vaccine program. We have three highly effective and safe vaccines, and like other decisions people make about their health, people can decide what level of risk makes sense for them when they consider their vaccination options.”
During the pause, public health agencies contacted providers and clinicians to ensure that they are able to recognize and treat this potential adverse event. The risk of any complication is extremely low. If you receive the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg swelling, shortness of breath or symptoms listed on this factsheet, contact your health care provider or an urgent care center.
Johnson and Johnson vaccine in King County
Public Health – Seattle & King County currently has about ten thousand doses of the J&J vaccine in storage that are ready for distribution. We will be working over the next several days on plans for distribution of the vaccine.
For our mobile vaccination programs, we will be moving forward with the use of Moderna that had been planned for next week. For new vaccination clinics, we will be able to offer the J&J vaccine, but we will be flexible based on the preferences of sites. Public Health will continue to adjust as we get more feedback from the community.
At King County’s Auburn Outlet Mall vaccination clinic, we will be working to offer the J&J vaccine as an option in the coming days. Appointments at our Kent ShoWare vaccination clinic currently use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and are not affected.
At this time, we do not have community-based clinics scheduled using the J&J vaccine. We will continue to work closely with community partners to develop plans around all three vaccine types.
Public Health will conduct outreach to providers, community partners, and the public through our communications channels to share additional information about the pause and why it was lifted, and provide education about vaccines. It’s important for all of us to have the information we need to make the best decisions for our individual health and the health of the community.