The CDC and FDA have suspended the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine.
That action was taken when, out of the 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered in the United States, six women experienced what the FDA has described as "extremely rare" blood clots.
The FDA is still investigating whether these six cases of rare blood clots were related to the vaccine.
Why did the FDA take this action? Even though extremely rare (six out of 6.8 million) the form of blood clot experienced in these cases should not be treated with conventional methods (the drug heparin). One reason the FDA paused use of the vaccine was to ensure the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events, as well as the need for unique treatment if they see them in patients.
A special meeting of the FDA Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will convene on Wednesday to review the six cases and assess their potential significance.
It's important to note that less than one in a million J&J vaccinations are now under investigation.
Who is impacted? All six cases of blood clots occurred within 6-13 days after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. None of the events occurred in St. Louis County. There is no evidence of clots with either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, which rely upon different technology.
I had the J&J vaccine. What should I do? If you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the past three weeks and you develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, you should contact your doctor. You should not be treated with heparin, the blood thinner that is commonly used to treat blood clots, but that can exacerbate this form of blood clot.
I did not have the J&J vaccine but now I'm worried. That such swift and definitive action is being taken in response to extremely rare adverse events shows that the vaccine safety monitoring process is stringent - and is working exactly as it should. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority, and all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination are taken very seriously.
I haven't yet gotten a vaccine. What should I do? Vaccines are a powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19. Your risk of getting COVID is significantly greater than your risk of getting a blood clot from the vaccine. And neither the Moderna nor Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which are the vaccines currently in use, have been shown to cause clots.
Again, the COVID vaccine safety and reporting process is so stringent that it was activated when less than one out of a million doses was implicated.
You can read the joint FDA/CDC statement at this link: https://www.fda.gov/news-
How do I schedule a vaccination in St. Louis County? Today DPH launched a new vaccine appointment site: stlcorona.com/vaccineappt. Anyone 16+ can visit stlcorona.com/vaccineappt to schedule an appointment. DPH will no longer be directly emailing scheduling links. As of April 13, it is no longer necessary to pre-register to schedule an appointment.
Until further notice, only Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be used.
Can a St Louis County resident get a vaccination in St. Louis City? Yes. FEMA is operating a daily mass vaccination site at The Dome starting today, April 13. This opportunity is for St. Louis County & St. Louis City residents. Registration and appointments are not required but are strongly encouraged.
You can register with Missouri's COVID Navigator by visiting covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator. Once registered with Navigator, you will be invited by DHSS to schedule an appointment. An event code is not necessary. The Dome vaccination hours are 8AM-6PM, 7 days a week.
Your second dose will be scheduled at the same location, after receiving your first dose. If you received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and were unable to return to the same location for your second dose, you can obtain a second Pfizer dose at The Dome. There should be at least 21 days between Pfizer doses.
NOTE: If you have any questions or challenges registering or scheduling your appointment at The Dome, contact the Navigator hotline at 877-435-8411. The Dome is a FEMA Vaccination site, NOT a St. Louis County site.
We hope this update is helpful. As we get further information, we'll share it with you.