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California pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine usage following federal recommendation

California will temporarily pause all distribution of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, following a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. (Noah Danesh/Daily Bruin)

By Anushka Chakrabarti

April 13, 2021 2:04 p.m.

This post was updated April 13 at 3:28 p.m.

California and Los Angeles County have paused the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with a recommendation from federal health agencies following rare reports of people having severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration issued a joint recommendation Tuesday urging health care providers to temporarily halt the distribution of the J&J vaccine after six people reported rare and severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine. The U.S. has administered more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine as of April 12.

The side effects are considered “extremely rare,” according to the CDC and FDA.

The CDC will hold a meeting on Wednesday with the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to review the six cases, according to the CDC and FDA. The review may take several days, according to a Tuesday statement from the LA County Department of Public Health.

Both California and LA County officials announced Tuesday that they will follow the federal guidance and will stop administering the J&J vaccine until further notice.

The California Department of Public Health said in a statement Tuesday that the state will also work with Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to review the recommendations from the federal government.

The pause is not expected to have a significant impact on vaccine allocations in California, the CDPH said in the statement. 

Vaccine providers in LA County will contact people who have existing appointments for the J&J vaccine to reschedule appointments or offer the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the LACDPH said in a statement Tuesday.

UCLA Health said in a statement that it stopped administering J&J vaccines. Patients who are scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine from UCLA Health on Tuesday will instead receive a dose of the Moderna vaccine.

UCLA Health added that it paused distribution of the J&J vaccine as a precaution and is unaware of any patients experiencing severe side effects.

UCLA Health does not anticipate that the pause will disrupt its vaccine distribution, according to the statement.

The J&J vaccine is one of three COVID-19 vaccines allowed by the FDA for emergency use. Out of the three, it is the only single-dose vaccine. 

All six of the cases were reported in women aged 18 to 48, according to the CDC and FDA. The reactions occurred within 14 days of receiving the J&J vaccine. 

The J&J vaccine makes up 4% of the vaccine supply in California this week, according to the CDPH. 

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Anushka Chakrabarti | News editor
Chakrabarti is currently the 2021-2022 News editor. She was previously the 2020-2021 assistant News editor for the science and health beat, and she was a former contributor for online. She is also a third-year mathematics and economics student at UCLA.
Chakrabarti is currently the 2021-2022 News editor. She was previously the 2020-2021 assistant News editor for the science and health beat, and she was a former contributor for online. She is also a third-year mathematics and economics student at UCLA.
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