Department of Health: PA pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccinations until at least April 20

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FILE – This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced today it has notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers to pause administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until at least April 20.

The recommendation is out of an abundance of caution from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

The department says it is taking these steps as a precaution until the CDC and FDA have time to review six incidents of rare blood clots that occurred within two weeks of receiving Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. These six cases occurred in women between 18 and 48 who were among the 6.8 million Americans who received the vaccine.

“While this announcement is challenging, it highlights the vaccine evaluation process,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The CDC and the FDA are closely monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and if there is a cause for concern, they will take action because safety is paramount. This protocol should give all Pennsylvanians confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and individuals should proceed with getting vaccinated as soon as possible to fight the virus, particularly as our case counts rise.”

The department recommends that if you have an appointment scheduled to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination to keep those appointments.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have any health concerns, contact your health care provider.

People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of their vaccination should contact their health care provider. For more information, find the CDC/FDA guidance online here.

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