The Louisiana Department of Health announced Tuesday that it is placing a temporary pause on all administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the state.
The pause comes while federal health agencies investigate whether six reported cases of blood clotting in other states were caused by the vaccine.
LDH says providers in the state of Louisiana will continue to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and all Louisianans are encouraged to take advantage of the available vaccines, so the state can continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended that the United States pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution over six reported U.S. cases of a "rare and severe" type of blood clot.
"Today's pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is out of an abundance of caution. This morning, I had a call with White House officials and other governors to discuss this issue as we work to safely get as many Louisianans 16 and older vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. While I understand that this news may be concerning, I remain committed to working alongside public health experts to make sure people can get the answers they need to make an informed decision," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "Right now, there are two safe and effective vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – available and being administered in Louisiana and I encourage everyone in Louisiana to keep their appointments and to take advantage of the vaccines we have available. Nearly one million Louisianans have already completed their vaccinations against COVID-19. There have been around 85,000 Johnson and Johnson doses administered in Louisiana and no reported cases of this rare blood clot that we are aware of. In the short-term, this means some community vaccination events may have to be rescheduled or shifted to use Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for now and working with the team from the Louisiana Department of Health and health care officials, we will continue the important work of administering vaccines."
"While this news is frustrating and concerning, we appreciate the FDA acting with abundant caution and transparency," said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana's State Health Officer. "We do not yet know whether these reported cases of blood clotting were caused by the vaccine. The State of Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously, and this temporary pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended."
As of April 12, LDH says that more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S.
The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.
The CDC said it will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, LDH is temporarily pausing in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.
According to LDH, the adverse events appear to be extremely rare. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, chest pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
Minor side effects are a normal sign the body is building protection. Side effects may include pain and swelling in the arm, fever, chills, tiredness or a headache. Most side effects will go away in a few days or less.
Vaccine availability of Pfizer and Moderna will continue uninterrupted, they said.
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