Gov. Edwards, LDH join feds in pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccine usage in Louisiana

State News

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson on November 17, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Health is placing a temporary pause on all administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine while federal health agencies investigate whether six reported cases of blood clotting were caused by the vaccine.

Vaccine availability of Pfizer and Moderna will continue uninterrupted, said officials, and providers in Louisiana will continue to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“Today’s pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is out of an abundance of caution,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “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.

“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 1 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, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. 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.

CDC 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. 
Right now, these 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.

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