Michigan moves forward with Johnson & Johnson vaccine after investigation of rare blood clots

Apr 24, 2021 at 9:11 am
click to enlarge Michigan moves forward with Johnson & Johnson vaccine after investigation of rare blood clots
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Michigan has resumed using the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines after a pause started on April 13 to investigate a small number of people who had experienced blood clots.

On Friday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted their call for a pause, clearing the vaccines for use again. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services followed suit on Friday.

"This brief pause indicates there is a robust safety review process in place for these vaccines," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. "These adverse events appear to be extremely rare as nearly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. with only 15 cases of this blood clotting syndrome confirmed."

The pause was recommended so the FDA and CDC could investigate reports that surfaced of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot. The investigation found that a total of 15 people have experienced what is known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), all women between the ages of 18 and 59, with a median age of 37. According to the investigation, the clots occurred between six and 15 days after vaccination.

"At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of TTS occurring is very low, but the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk," the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

To put it in perspective, birth control pills can also cause blood clots in women at a much higher rate (1 in 3,000), than officials are reporting for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (15 in 7 million).

Michigan has administered nearly 200,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to state data.

Aside from the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are also available, which have not been linked to blood clots.

The vaccines have not been FDA-approved, but the FDA issued emergency-use authorization due to many clinical trials that have found them to be effective in preventing COVID-19.

Officials say that the pandemic will continue until a critical mass of people gets vaccinated.

"We encourage everyone to continue making appointments to be vaccinated with the safe and effective Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines," Khaldun said. "These vaccines are the way we are going to end this pandemic as quickly as possible and move toward a sense of normalcy."

More information about the COVID-19 vaccines is available at Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine.

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