Wisconsin DHS tells vaccinators to hold Johnson & Johnson vaccine as federal review is extended

Us Weighs Next Steps For J&j Virus Shot Amid Clot Mystery
Jessica Hill

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is held by pharmacist Madeline Acquilano at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. U.S. health officials are weighing next steps as they investigate unusual blood clots in a small number of people given the vaccine -- a one-dose shot that many countries hoped would help speed protection against the pandemic.

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin health officials say a statewide pause on giving the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will continue until federal officials recommend lifting the hold.

The FDA and CDC recommended pausing vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this week after a handful of reports of a very rare blood clot condition developing in a total of 6 of the 6.8 million people who had received doses so far, accounting for 0.000088% of the total Johnson & Johnson doses. A federal committee held a meeting earlier this week on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and recommended extending the pause until the CDC could collect more data, but did not revoke the emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

Wisconsin health officials have stressed that this does not mean that the vaccine isn’t safe — just that the government is taking every precaution.

“Safety is our number one priority when it comes to protecting public health,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said Friday. “We appreciate the level of complexities being considered by this national panel of independent experts in their review of the vaccine, and are working with Wisconsin providers to be aware of these adverse events and how to evaluate and treat patients with the noted symptoms.”

DHS says until new federal guidance comes down, vaccinators should hold onto any Johnson & Johnson vaccines they have in proper storage. Anyone who already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and is worried about the blood clots should monitor for symptoms like severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath. Anyone who has those symptoms should contact their doctor.