SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in the administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they were investigating clots in six women aged 18-48 that occurred about a week after vaccination.
The clots were observed along with reduced platelet counts — making the usual treatment for blood clots, the blood thinner heparin, potentially “dangerous.”
Dr. Janet Woodcock, FDA’s acting commissioner, says, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”
State health departments in Georgia and South Carolina will be be following the guidance, halting the use of the J&J vaccine.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), officials are working to provide Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to patients with previously scheduled appointments for the J&J vaccine. Rescheduling may be required in some cases, and DPH asks for patience as adjustments are made.
DPH also confirmed none of the six cases under investigation were given in Georgia and are unrelated to reactions reported last week at the Cumming Fairgrounds mass vaccination site.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is also in the process of rescheduling or changing planned vaccine types for events that would be using the J&J shot.
DHEC said like most states, every week, South Carolina had been receiving a small amount of the single-dose vaccine (about 7,000) compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (roughly 40,000 each).
“Because of this, the pause on Janssen vaccine is less of an impact in our state than we would experience if a pause occurred on Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,” DHEC stated.
Nearly 7 million J&J doses have been administered in the U.S., almost all without serious side effects.
Georgia has administered over 124,000 doses and South Carolina has given more than 80,000 doses.
CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday to discuss the cases. The FDA has launched an investigation into the cause of the clots and low platelet counts.
Previously, concern about the unusual blood clots centered on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet received authorization in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report