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FDA temporarily halts use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to rare blood clotting issues


Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vial and box seen at a vaccination site. Doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being administered throughout the state of Florida despite a small number of patients who have experienced adverse reactions, including blood clots.

Paul Hennessy | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it is asking states to temporarily halt using Johnson & Johnson‘s Covid-19 vaccine after six people in the U.S. developed a rare blood clotting disorder.

The FDA said the recommendation is “out of an abundance of caution,” adding the adverse events seen in the handful of recipients appears to be extremely rare.

“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare,” the FDA said in a joint statement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”

All six cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms developing six to 13 days after they received the shot. Doctors typically treat that type of blood clot with heparin but health regulators noted that could be dangerous in this case and recommended a different treatment.

People who receive the vaccine and “develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,” the FDA and CDC said.

Shares of J&J were down more than 3% in premarket trading Tuesday.

The CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to further review the cases, federal health regulators said Tuesday. The FDA is also investigating the cases.

When J&J submitted its Covid vaccine data to the FDA in February, no specific concerns were identified when analyzed by age, race and comorbidities, according to the agency. The FDA said at the time the most common side effects reported were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever.

The New York Times first reported the news.

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