Stopping the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines should not slow the rollout in Minnesota and Wisconsin very much, officials said, because they can rely on other vaccines.
Minnesota and Wisconsin health officials on Tuesday ordered clinics to pause using the product for the foreseeable future. The action followed a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation. Those agencies are reviewing data about an extremely rare type of blood clot that has been reported in six people who received that vaccine in the United States. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of Janssen had been administered in the U.S.
Pierce County had to cancel a vaccination clinic, but adjusted quickly, according to the health service.
"While it's unfortunate that we had to cancel a clinic this week, we are committed to vaccine safety. Until the CDC and FDA provide guidance on how to educate patients and treat this rare condition, we will dispense Moderna instead, which has no connection to the issue under investigation. I want to emphasize that this outcome appears to be very rare -- about 1 in a million, but any serious outcomes require proper investigation."
Goodhue County Health & Human Services, has not used the company’s Janssen vaccine.
“We will continue to receive the Moderna vaccine, which is our primary COVID vaccine product,” said Jessica Seide, Goodhue County HHS community health specialist and the public information officer.
All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, according to the CDC.
While Minnesota officials said they are not aware of any cases occurring among the more than 184,000 Minnesotans who have received this vaccine, those who did are urged to watch for reaction. If they develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination they should contact their health care provider.
CDC was scheduled to convene a meeting of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices today to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates the cases.
“While this issue appears to be extremely rare, CDC and FDA are acting in a very cautious manner that underscores our commitment to vaccine safety,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said.
Reliance on Pfizer, Moderna
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine represents about 6.6% of the total supply of vaccines Minnesota has received to date, so the pause is not expected to dramatically slow the pace of vaccinations in the state.
Johnson & Johnson represents about 4% of actual vaccinations in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported the state continues to have a good supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines; 96% of the doses administered have been those two, which require two shots compared one with Johnson & Johnson.
However, anyone who currently has an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should watch for a notification from their provider about canceling, postponing, or rescheduling the appointment.
“Vaccine providers should not administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at this time, and should hold on to the vaccine until federal review has been completed,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.
Vaccine providers should continue to hold the vaccine at proper storage and continue timely reporting of any adverse reactions. This pause will allow CDC to determine if there are any further cases of this clotting disorder and to provide health care providers with guidance on how to treat this rare condition, the state said.
Mayo Clinic put a hold on Johnson & Johnson usage systemwide Tuesday, acknowledging the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
"Out of an abundance of caution, Mayo Clinic will follow this guidance and pause on delivering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further notice," the clinic said in a statement.