Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain on pause as the FDA reviews evidence of rare blood clots. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have not been linked with any concerns and continue to be administered. During calls on 4/14 and 4/15, physicians and vaccine researchers at the CDC emphasized that the number of reported cases has been very rare (less than 1 in 1,000,000 people). The reason for the temporary halt in vaccination is to thoroughly investigate whether additional cases of clots have occurred. The goal is to allow people to make informed decisions prior to receiving a vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) product. It is the expectation of our Health Department that within the next 2-3 weeks, vaccinations with J&J will resume.
Of the 6 cases of cerebral blood clots reported among the 6.8 million people who have received the J&J vaccine, all were women under age 50 and happened within 2 weeks of vaccination. There was no association with pregnancy or birth control (1 of the 6 women took birth control pills and none were pregnant).
The blood clots that occurred were the result of a rare immune reaction. The AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine available in Canada and Europe is similar in design to the J&J. The AZ vaccine has also been associated with rare blood clots (1 in 250,000 people). These have occurred at a 2:1 ratio in women vs. men. In Canada and Europe, there also has been no link between birth control or pregnancy and these blood clots.
The CDC Vaccine Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on 4/23 to discuss additional data. It remains to be determined when they will issue more guidance. It is extremely important to the Calvert County Health Department that we provide accurate information to our entire community. Our physicians and nurses view every resident of Calvert as our personal patients. We want you to be able to make the best decisions for your health and the health of your family members.
For the moment, we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated with either Moderna or Pfizer. Close to 200 million doses of these vaccines have been administered nationwide with an extraordinary safety and effectiveness record. We continue to see >100 new infections each week in our county. Currently, there are people ranging in age from their 30’s to 80’s hospitalized in Calvert with COVID complications. The youngest is in the ICU. None of these people had been vaccinated. Please take care and once we have more information on the J&J vaccine, we will let you know.