DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stopped using Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine “out of caution” Tuesday. This is in response to the joint announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA to end the use of the J&J Janssen vaccine.
Federal officials recommended temporarily suspending use of the vaccine, following reports from 6 people in the United States who had rare and severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine. The federal government allows states to decide whether to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine. The CDPHE urges providers to stop giving the Janssen vaccine until additional information is available.
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The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment announced shortly afterwards that it would follow CDPHE recommendations to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine.
The CDPHE claims that the adverse effects appear to be extremely rare. However, this statement has been made public: People who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago are at very little risk of serious side effects. Anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine within the last three weeks and develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath should see their doctor. These symptoms are different from the flu-like symptoms that can occur after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare providers should report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
“In these cases, a type of blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) has been seen in combination with low blood platelet levels (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48 years, and symptoms appeared 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment for this specific type of blood clot is different from treatment that can typically be given. Usually an anticoagulant called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this situation, the administration of heparin can be dangerous and alternative treatments must be used, ”said FDA and CDC in a joint statement.
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The J&J vaccine is only a small fraction of the COVID-19 vaccine allotment. This week the total is 9,700, compared to nearly 280,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna Colorado expects this week.
Those supposed to get the J&J vaccine will instead get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The state’s mobile vaccination buses, which only administered the Janssen vaccine, were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.
Last week, a mass vaccination clinic at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City was stopped because 11 people who received the J&J vaccine experienced adverse side effects. Two people were rushed to the hospital and later discharged from the emergency room. Centura Health administered the vaccine and discontinued use of the Janssen vaccine in its drive-up vaccination clinics. Instead, he only distributed the J&J vaccine in “outpatient nursing and medical clinics”.
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The day after the incidents at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that these reactions showed no problems with the vaccine.