TRENTON, NJ — Mercer County is halting the use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) coronavirus vaccine after the New Jersey Department of Health issued a directive to all vaccination sites. The decision comes on the same day as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration issued warnings about potentially dangerous side effects of the one-shot vaccine.

The CDC and FDA halted the vaccine’s usage after six women across the United States developed a “rare and severe” type of blood clot within six to 13 days of receiving a dose. One of those women have died and another is in critical condition. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets, according to the health department.

“For individuals scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine, the department will work with all vaccination sites to make arrangements for the administration of an alternative two-dose (Moderna or Pfizer) vaccine,” said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “We will work with all sites, as needed, to reschedule vaccination appointments.”

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In response to TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville's inquiry about Mercer County's use of the J&J vaccine, a spokesperson said "The county proactively halted its planned use of J&J at today's clinic at CURE Arena prior to any formal guidance. Later in the morning we received official guidance, so we were satisfied that we had paused usage in advance of the formal notice from NJ Department of Health. County Executive Hughes was able to pivot from J&J to Moderna, and no one who was scheduled for vaccination today at a county-run clinic needed to be rescheduled."

"Going forward, we will only be constrained by the number of doses supplied to us by the state. It remains to be seen whether the pause on the J&J doses will have a lasting effect," added the Mercer County spokesperson.

Individuals who have received the vaccine and develop abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, severe headache or other unusual symptoms within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

The New Jersey Department of Health said it is awaiting further guidance from the federal government. Meanwhile, the Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting to discuss these adverse events and make recommendations to the CDC on how to proceed.

In New Jersey, more than 5.44 million vaccine doses have been given, with nearly 2.2 million people fully immunized. In a breakdown of vaccine brand administered, Pfizer accounts for 2.8 million doses (51%) and Moderna 2.4 million doses (44%) — with two doses required for fully vaccination — and J&J 220,000 (4%) doses of its one-shot vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

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