New York paused its use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday following a joint recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the state will stop using the vaccine immediately while federal health and safety agencies investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots in people who received the vaccine.
Anyone with a Tuesday appointment for the J&J vaccine at a New York State mass vaccination site will receive the Pfizer vaccine instead, Zucker said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers not to cancel their appointments.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating blood clots in six women between six and 13 days after they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets.
All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48. There was one death and all remained under investigation.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday to discuss the cases and the FDA has also launched an investigation.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States.
Commissioner Zucker said the state Health Department is “in constant contact” with the federal government and will provide further updates as they become available.
“As the CDC and FDA have said, any adverse events related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘appear to be extremely rare’ and, ‘People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,’” the commissioner added.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled all Johnson & Johnson appointments and suspended the city’s vaccination program for homebound seniors, which entirely relied on J&J vaccines.
Anyone who was scheduled to receive a J&J shot at a New York City-run facility will get a new appointment with Pfizer or Moderna, de Blasio said.
About 4,000 vaccine appointments per day will be impacted, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.
Several colleges in New York also announced cancellations of vaccination clinics using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Officials at SUNY Oswego announced that a Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic scheduled for Tuesday would be canceled and advised students and employees to look into local options for getting the Moderna vaccine.
Other states, including Connecticut and New Jersey, also announced they would halt the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.