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Connecticut DPH Pausing Johnson + Johnson Vaccinations

  • Connecticut Department of Public Health pauses distribution of Johnson + Johnson vaccines after federal recommendation to do so
  • In extremely rare cases, J+J recipients developed severe blood clots
  • Department will work with providers to offer alternative vaccine options, but anticipates some disruptions

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Johnson + Johnson COVID-19 vaccines will be temporarily unavailable in Connecticut after the state’s Department of Public Health announced it is following federal guidance to pause their distribution.

The Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration said federally run vaccination sites would temporarily stop using J+J doses, and advised state health agencies to do the same, after a small fraction of vaccine recipients developed severe blood clots within two weeks. The Connecticut Department of Public Health said it is pausing any further use of the J+J vaccine until the CDC and FDA complete their investigation into the issue.

About 6.8 million million people have received the J+J vaccine nationwide, including approximately 100,000 Connecticut residents. Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed severe blood clots, including one who died and one who has been hospitalized in critical condition.

The J+J vaccine has been praised for qualities that allow it to be quickly distributed, including the ability to be stored in a standard refrigerator and its single-shot administration, unlike the two-dose vaccines available from Pfizer and Moderna. However, distribution of the vaccine was also dealt a blow recently due to manufacturing errors that greatly reduced the number of doses that could be provided to states.

The pause will likely slow vaccination efforts, although DPH has advised providers using the J+J vaccine to delay their clinics or offer Pfizer or Moderna doses as an alternative. The department is also planning to work with providers to minimize disruptions, although it anticipates that some cancellations will occur.

The disruption comes as Connecticut has relaxed several business restrictions and state officials have expressed optimism about the pace of vaccinations in the state, while still cautioning residents to continue following mask mandates and social distancing. More than half of the state’s adult population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, including 30 percent of those ages 16 to 44 who became eligible on April 1.

The FDA and CDC say that while the severe blood clots have been extremely rare, anyone who has received the J+J vaccine and subsequently develops a severe headache, abdominal paid, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks should contact their health care provider.

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