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ASU pauses Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine administration

The pause recommendation comes so the CDC and FDA can look into a blood clot six women developed after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

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A volunteer administers the COVID-19 vaccine at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex in Tempe on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.

ASU will immediately pause the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at its health clinics following the federal recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Federal Drug Administration to do so "out of an abundance of caution" to investigate an extremely rare blood clot some have developed after receiving the vaccine, a University spokesperson confirmed.

Students who had scheduled appointments at ASU health services, which administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, were afforded vaccination within an hour of their scheduled appointment, the spokesperson said. The relocated appointments were redirected to the Desert Financial Arena vaccine site on the Tempe campus.

In a joint statement, the CDC and FDA said Tuesday six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, a type of blood clot that requires a specific treatment plan "different from the treatment that might typically be administered" when someone develops a blood clot, the statement said. Symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, the statement said.

The risk is very low for anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over a month ago. Those who have received it more recently, "they should be aware to look for any symptoms" and contact a health care provider if symptoms develop, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC, in a press briefing.

Across the country, over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since April 12, the statement said. The vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials and requires only one dose, an advantage over the other approved COVID-19 vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer.

The FDA will review and investigate the cases, the statement said, and the two organizations together "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," the statement said. "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."

The University began administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to students and staff last week following the state's decision to open up vaccine eligibility to residents ages 16 and up. According to the spokesperson, ASU receives around 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines each week to administer and had begun receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as part of its allocation from the state and county.

The spokesperson said the state sites ASU helps operate will continue to administer doses to people as they are using the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Editor's Note: This article was updated Friday, April 16 to include information on how vaccine appointments would be rescheduled.

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Wyatt MyskowProject Manager

Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.

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