Long Beach is pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccinations after rare blood-clotting reports

The Long Beach Health Department announced Tuesday that it will temporarily pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the recommendation of federal health agencies after six women nationwide developed serious blood clots after receiving the single-dose vaccine.

It’s not yet clear if the clots, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), are linked to the vaccine, and the condition is considered extremely rare. Nearly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered to the U.S. public nationwide.

Of the 15,000 Johnson & Johnson doses Long Beach has received—11,500 of those allocated directly to the health department—only 5,567 doses have been administered to date, city officials said. The city’s health department said there have been no reports of CVST in Long Beach residents.

“People who received the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine more than one month ago have very little risk of experiencing CVST,” the city’s health department said in a statement, adding that those who received the vaccine less than one month ago and are experiencing any symptoms of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath should contact their health provider.

These symptoms, the health department said, differ from the mild, flu-like symptoms in the days immediately following being vaccinated.

It’s unclear how an extended pause on Johnson & Johnson shots would affect Long Beach’s overall supply of vaccines.

All three of the vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—were being doled out to the public at the city’s mass vaccination site at the Long Beach Convention Center. City officials said appointments at the vaccination site this week will not be affected as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not scheduled for appointments and the city will continue to offer walk-up vaccinations using the Pfizer vaccine.

According to a joint statement from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the federal government recommended the immediate pause nationwide, “out of an abundance of caution” after the six U.S. recipients—all women between the ages of 18 and 48—developed serious blood clots within two weeks of getting vaccinated. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska was hospitalized in critical condition.

The city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Heath announced Tuesday they would adhere to the CDC and FDA’s recommendation. In addition, the federal government has also mandated that all federal vaccine sites temporarily pause as well.

The halt in the use of the vaccine in Los Angeles County will likely have minimal impact on overall vaccination efforts locally, at least in the short term. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday the county had received only 19,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, out of an overall allotment of 323,470—the rest being a combination of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Long Beach, which has its own health department, is allocated vaccines and administers them separately from LA County.

City New Service contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with more information from the city’s health department.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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