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Following CDC, FDA recommendations, LDH pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine


FILE – In this Thursday, April 8, 2021 file photo, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Department of Health has issued an immediate pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, joining states across the country following recommendations from the FDA and CDC to do so “out of an abundance of caution” over six reported US cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot.

The LDH sent a memo to all COVID-19 vaccine providers in the state Tuesday morning advising to pause administering the vaccine immediately, and that all shipments of the J&J vaccine will be temporarily suspended until more information is gathered. Providers were also advised to continue to store any doses they have in the refrigerator.

“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. 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. 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 health care provider.”

Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

“The State of Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously, and this pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended,” the memo to providers said.

“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,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement released by the LDH.

“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,” Gov. Edwards said. “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.”

Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma have ordered similar pauses in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in their respective states.

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