Story at a glance
- On April 13th, 2021, a joint CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) statement was released that urges the U.S. to halt their use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- This statement comes after 6 reported blood clotting incidents which occurred within 2 weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- Six women ranging in ages 18-48 who received the vaccine developed a rare type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).
- One woman died and another is in critical condition.
- Although the joint statement is aimed at health practitioners in the states, the government is expected to stop administering the vaccine at all federally run vaccination centers.
- This news comes one week after Biden announced he was moving up his vaccination deadline to April 19th, 2021.
Joint CDC and FDA statement
On April 13, 2021, a joint statement from the CDC and FDA was released addressing 6 separate incidents of a rare form of blood clot which occurred in Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients.
In all cases, the recipients were women and they ranged in ages 18-48. The statement explains that all the women were diagnosed with having a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a rare form of blood clot that does not respond positively to heparin (the typical drug used to treat blood clots).
One woman died and another is in critical condition.
The CDC plans to meet with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to review the incidents, and the FDA will also investigate these cases.
The statement says, “we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.” and that, “This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.” (1)
Johnson & Johnson Press Release
Johnson & Johnson also released a statement on April 13th, 2021 regarding the blood clotting cases.
The company says they are “aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets”. (2)
They also state that they have made the decision to delay the rollout of their vaccine in Europe, where the U.K. is seeing blood clotting effects from the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
At the end of their statement, it says “The health authorities advise that people who have had our COVID-19 vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.” (3)
Why are the vaccines causing blood clots?
No official causes or links have been identified as to why the blood clots occur and who are more prone to developing them post-vaccination.
While the AstraZeneca vaccine has caused blood clots in both men and women, one man has died from a blood clot linked to their vaccination, the Johnson & Johnson vaccines have only affected women so far.
This is possibly related to the notion that women experience more adverse side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
Researchers speculate that the blood clots, and low platelet counts which contributed to abnormal bleeding, are a triggered immune response caused by the vaccine.
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines both use adenoviruses to carry DNA into human cells, they are also the only two vaccinations which have blood clotting adverse reactions. It is currently unknown if this specific technology causes the problems but will be under investigation.
These statements were released exactly one week after Biden decided to move up his vaccination deadline to April 19th, 2021.
According to Jeffrey Zients, the White House Coronavirus Coordinator, the Johnson & Johnson pause “will not have a significant impact” on Biden’s vaccine plan to have enough vaccines available for every U.S. adult by April 19th. (4)
(1) Marks, Peter, M.D., PhD. “Joint CDC and FDA Statement on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine”. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. April 13th, 2021.
(2-3) Johnson & Johnson. “Johnson & Johnson Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine”. April 13th, 2021.
(4) Neuman, Scott. “U.S. Recommends Pausing Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns”. NPR. April 13th, 2021.