MTSU pauses Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Apr 13, 2021 at 11:48 am by Voice Wire

MTSU Health Services nurse practitioner Kendra Todd, left, administers the Moderna vaccine to Vickie Bailey, who worked in Health Services 25 years before retiring. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Upon the guidance of state and federal public health officials, MTSU Health Services will pause its vaccination efforts while a review is conducted into six rare but severe reactions among the 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered nationwide. 

MTSU plans to resume operations, including the Student Union atrium clinic, upon additional guidance by health officials. 

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. 

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