U.S. pauses Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after clotting cases and death. All six cases involve women ages 18 to 48

Federal health agencies in the United States on Tuesday called for an immediate pause of the Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine after six recipients developed a rare but severe disorder involving blood clots, with one woman dying and another in a critical condition in the hospital. The disorder was noticed within about two weeks of vaccination, according to American federal officials.

They said the symptoms – severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain and shortness of breath – tend to appear within 6 to 13 days of vaccination, and advised those noticing them to contact their physicians. 

Officials said all the six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48 and that while one woman had died, a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.

“Today FDA and @CDCgov issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson #COVID19 vaccine. We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the Federal Drug Administration said in a tweet on Tuesday morning. “As of 4/12, 6.8m+ doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC & FDA are reviewing data involving 6 reported U.S. cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

It said “treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered.”

“CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause. This is important to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot,” the FDA added.

The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is part of the COVAX facility being rolled out across the world and in Africa. In the United States, nearly seven million people have received the shot and about 9 million more doses have been shipped out to the states, according to data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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