COVID-19 Q&A: Johnson & Johnson vaccine and severe adverse effects

Q: Why are Idaho and the nation calling for a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

A: The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is recommending that Idaho vaccine providers not use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until more information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This recommendation was made after the department received information that the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reviewing data for six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot, combined with low platelet counts, in individuals who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Vaccine safety is the nation’s and Idaho’s No. 1 priority. The CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in administering the vaccine until additional information is available for healthcare providers about evaluation and treatment of this rare adverse event among people who have been vaccinated. The Idaho Immunization Program has notified Idaho providers.

Q: What can you say about the six people who developed this rare blood clot after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Were any in Idaho?

A: None of the six cases have been reported in Idaho. Of the six, one person has died, and another is hospitalized in critical condition. All of the patients were women between 18 and 48 years of age. Symptoms occurred 6-13 days after vaccination.

Q: What are the symptoms of this rare and severe type of blood clot? When should someone seek medical care?

A: Some flu-like symptoms immediately after getting a vaccine is normal. But people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath after vaccination should contact their doctor immediately.

Q: What should I do if I have an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Should I cancel it until we know more?

A: If you have a scheduled appointment to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, please consider getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or work with your vaccine provider to postpone your appointment.

Q: Are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines still considered safe and effective?

A: The FDA and CDC continue to monitor the safety and efficacy of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and they have not had this issue reported. We recommend that Idahoans continue with their appointments to receive these critical vaccines because it’s the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting COVID-19.

Q: How long will the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be unavailable?

A: It may be several days and could be longer. The CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday, April 14, to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. The FDA will review that assessment as it also investigates these cases. We expect to receive additional guidance when CDC and FDA have had time to evaluate the cases.

Dr. Kathryn Turner is the deputy state epidemiologist in the Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Public Health.

Join us at 10 a.m. Wednesday on Facebook Live: Deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner will answer questions about the temporary pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Idaho and the nation.

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, please continue to:

  • Wear face coverings  
  • Keep at least six feet between you and others
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

Resources

Stay up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at the following websites:

DHW also posts lots of information, including daily updates on the numbers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.

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