TRENTON, NJ — The state Department of Health has directed all New Jersey vaccination sites to cancel or put on hold appointments for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine — following recommendations by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

The health agencies today issued a pause in 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 the one-dose J&J vaccine. One of those women have died and another is in critical condition, according to news reports. 

Essex County Joseph DiVincenzo said in an emailed statement that Essex County residents who have scheduled a J&J appointment at the Kmart site in West Orange or the Sears site at Livingston Mall will be offered the Moderna vaccine instead. “Senior citizens who are being bused to our sites to receive their vaccination also will receive the Moderna vaccine.”

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Due to the extreme cold needed to maintain storage of the Moderna vaccine, he added that “unfortunately, our mobile sites at churches, senior buildings, community centers, shelters, boarding homes and homebound residents will be rescheduled.”

“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,” state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in an April 13 statement. “We will work with all sites, as needed, to reschedule vaccination appointments.”

CDC and the FDA are reviewing the data involving the six reported cases — among nearly 7 million doses administered in the United States — in women between ages 18 and 48 who received the J&J vaccine. 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.

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 state Health Department 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 tomorrow, April 14, 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.

In Monmouth County, nearly 400,000 doses have been administered, with some 161,000 people fully vaccinated. Of doses delivered, 50% have been the Moderna vaccine, 46% the Pfizer vaccine and 3% the J&J shot.

 

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