MONTPELIER — In accordance with federal recommendations, state officials in Vermont on Tuesday announced a pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until Friday following incidence of blood clotting in some who were given that vaccine.
“I just wanted to note that this recommendation was made out of an abundance of caution due to extremely rare blood clots,” said Gov. Phil Scott. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the most part has shown to be safe and effective.”
During a press conference outlining the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott announced that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the pause on a call with the White House and governors in the morning. During the pause, federal officials will analyze the data and determine recommendations for states and the health care community.
The pause comes after six people in the U.S. experienced blood clots following administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said all six people were women between ages 16 and 48, with symptoms beginning six to 13 days after they received the dose. He said no such cases have occurred in Vermont at this time.
State official repeatedly said the CDC recommendation came out of an abundance of caution, noting that roughly 6.8 million doses have been administered nationwide up to this point.
“The caution is certainly something that we should respect, because safety should always be first, but again, it shouldn’t necessarily alarm us,” said Levine.
Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said roughly 2,000 appointments Tuesday would be affected by the change. Another 2,000 appointments over the course of the week will be impacted, along with 1,800 that are scheduled in the following weeks.
“We’ll determine what to do with those as we get more information,” Smith said, adding that those Vermonters will be given the opportunity to reschedule and receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or reschedule to a later date and receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine depending on federal recommendations.
“We are all hopeful the administration of the Johnson & Johnson doses can resume in the days ahead,” Smith said.
Because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored at higher temperatures than the other two approved vaccines, Scott said there is no danger of losing doses at this time.
Due to an increased allotment from the other authorized vaccines, Vermont’s total allocation will not decrease as a result of the change, Scott said.
“We don’t believe there will be a longterm impact,” Scott said.