Hawaii follows FDA, CDC recommendation to pause J&J COVID-19 vaccinations over blood clot concerns

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health is halting the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. That is in line with the recommendation made by the Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday, April 13.

The agencies said there have been six reports nationwide of blood clots, all in women, happening six to 13 days after getting the one shot.

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One of those six patients died and another is in critical condition.

Pharmacies like Longs stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson shot just to be safe. The CDC’s decision to halt the single-dose vaccine may seem shocking — especially for those who got the shot, health care leaders say there is no need for alarm.

Health officials are sending this message those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: “Don’t panic.”

“We understand that people would be concerned, the news is troubling. Again, it’s very, very rare,” Healthcare Association of Hawaii president Hilton Raethel said.

The CDC said only six cases of severe blood clots were reported out of 6.8 million doses given in the U.S.

“So the blood clots that they’re seeing relative to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a very serious and significant blood clots. It’s not subtle,” Char explained. “It’s called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.”

Concerning symptoms could arise up to three weeks after the shot, including severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain and shortness of breath.

The CDC is advising anyone who has adverse reactions to contact their doctor immediately.

Raethel said, “we have not heard of any adverse reactions in Hawaii to date. And we certainly hope that we don’t experience any.”

The DOH said they received nearly 47,600 doses of the vaccine and administered 17,808, not including shots given by the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the Department of Defense or the Veterans Affairs office

Both CVS and Safeway, who received the vaccine via the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, said they are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments and allowing customers to reschedule for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as they are available.

The state health director said they still plan to open vaccinations up to everyone by Monday, April 19.

“So we’re going to keep marching forward,” Char explained. “Most of the vaccine we’re using in our community pods is Pfizer and Moderna anyway. So this will set up back a little bit, not a lot.”

Char said, they will hold on to the 30,000 doses they have in stock until the CDC decides what to do.

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