What local doctors are saying after J&J vaccine pause

FILE - In this March 26, 2021, file photo, a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to a person at a vaccination site at a Salvation Army location in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Shortly after the U.S. recommended a “pause” in the administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday morning to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots, Jacksonville doctors said while there is some cause for concern, cases still are extremely rare.

Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, said out of the almost 7 million doses of the J&J vaccine that have been given so far in the U.S. there have been just six reported cases of blood clots. Joshi said there are normally about three blood clots in every 1 million people in the U.S.

“What the CDC and the FDA now need to do is look into whether or not these cases were truly related to the vaccine or were they in people who may have been at high risk of having blood clots anyway for other reasons,” Joshi told News4Jax. “And so I think that’s very, very important keep in perspective, though I completely agree with them halting the use of the vaccine until they can get more information.”

The CDC and FDA have put the J & J vaccine on pause after 6 people have developed a rare blood clot disorder. Nearly seven million J & J vaccines have been administered. Joining this morning is Dr. Joshi to weigh in on the concern with the vaccine and what will come next.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating unusual clots among six women that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48.

Joshi said the reason that there is more of a concern is that the cases occurred within one to two weeks of receiving the vaccine, and not months after.

The reports appear similar to a rare, unusual type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to another COVID-19 vaccine not yet cleared in the U.S., from AstraZeneca.

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority of them with no or mild side effects.

Dr. Jonathan Kantor said the halt could have potentially devastating effects on vaccination efforts if the J&J vaccine is unable to be used again down the road.

“We are in a precarious, difficult situation here,” Kantor said on The Morning Show. “We hinged a lot of our hopes on our vaccination strategy on this J&J vaccine, the fact that it is a single dose and the fact that we have a lot available. We have a lot of other companies manufacturing it now.”

Though Kantor stressed that the pause is not the same as saying the vaccine is unsafe or it is dangerous.

Joshi added that the pause could also have a negative effect on consumer confidence, noting there are already a lot of vaccine skeptics.

“The vaccine hesitancy has been a real issue here in the United States, no doubt about it, and this doesn’t help those efforts, that’s for sure,” Joshi said. “Ultimately what this is showing is that safety remains the top priority when they realized that there was a blip here that they weren’t seeing necessarily in the studies, they backed off and they’re now studying it in more detail.”

Joshi said if investigators find the vaccine is safe, consumers should feel even more comfortable getting the shot moving forward.

In response to the pause, the Gateway Mall and its the federal smaller satellite vaccination sites run by the federal government in Jacksonville told News4Jax Tuesday they would discontinue giving Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines.

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.