April 15, 2021—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Health Alert about its joint recommendation with the FDA to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine “in an abundance of caution” due to the potential risk of patients developing a rare and severe type of blood clot.
The pause is, in part, to ensure that the healthcare community is aware of the potential for adverse events and can provide proper management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.
MAFP President Mark Hamed, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAFP views the pause as an opportunity to build in the vaccine trust through transparency. "I think it shows they're doing their due diligence,” he said in an MLive interview.
To review the six reported cases of blot clot out of nearly 7 million vaccinations, and assess their potential significance, the CDC convened an emergency meeting on Apr. 14 of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Michigan physician Pamela Rockwell, DO, FAAFP serves as a liaison to ACIP on behalf of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
ACIP did not take a vote on resuming administration of the vaccine. It, instead, decided to extend the pause and called for more data before making such a recommendation.
Clinicians who have inventory of the J&J vaccine are asked to mark “do not use” and keep it separately from other vaccines in their storage unit until further notice from the CDC, FDA, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their clinician. Clinicians are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.