U.S. health officials are urging the nation to “pause” the use of any Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, following reports that the shot is associated with increased risks of blood clots in some patients, further jeopardizing national efforts for a summer of normalcy.
“[COVID-19] vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously,” reads an April 13 morning tweet from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) April 13, 2021
The FDA continued that it, along with the Center for Disease Control, are investigating “six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine,” but assured that those cases “appear to be extremely rare.”
A CDC meeting is scheduled for April 14 to discuss the cases, and “until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause.”
The pause could wield a blow to plans for elected leaders like Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joe Biden to reach a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy by the summer.
New Jersey’s goal is to reach the arms of 4.7 million adults by the end of June, which Murphy said on April 12 would rely on a combination of 1 million one-shot J&J doses, and 7.4 million doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The state fully vaccinated 2.2 million adults as of April 12, and health officials are vying to get enough shots in the arm to counter surges fueled by the more contagious B.1.1.7 variants.
A major drop-off of J&J doses thanks to manufacturing errors at a Baltimore plant last month means 15 million doses went to waste.
Dose supply of the J&J shots in New Jersey cratered from 131,000 doses last week to 15,600 doses this week and just 5,200 viles next week, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
But Murphy said he was “comfortable” that the expected dose supply means the late June goal is “well within our reach.” Persichilli agreed, calling the timeline “reasonable.”
A 52-year-old Edison man reportedly developed pneumonia after getting the J&J inoculation in early March, and tested positive for COVID-19 a month later, according to abc7ny.com. He is now in critical condition at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison.
“It will happen,” Persichilli said. “The efficacy could be close to 100%, but there are also a percentage of cases that are either contracted COVID-19 before they got vaccinated or were exposed afterward and will fall ill.”