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Indiana Presses Pause On Johnson & Johnson Vaccines, Works To Supply Vaccine Sites

By Lauren Chapman, IPB News | Published on in Government, Health
Hoosiers with appointments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway received Moderna vaccines on Tuesday, after the state paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
Hoosiers with appointments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway received Moderna vaccines on Tuesday, after the state paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The Indiana Department of Health announced Tuesday it is pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after national guidance to do so. The state is working to supply vaccination sites with other vaccines.

After six of the 6.8 million people who have received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed a rare and severe type of blood clot, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended pausing use of the vaccine.

All six cases of the blood clot, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis with low levels of blood platelets, were women aged 18-48. Symptoms appeared six to 13 days after vaccination. Those symptoms were severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath.

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here’s What You Need To Know

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The state health department is supplying the two-dose Moderna vaccine to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is conducting mass vaccination clinics through Sunday, so that Hoosiers can continue to get vaccinated without interruption. Officials said the 6,000 appointments per day at IMS will still be able to receive vaccines.

Health officials encouraged Hoosiers to still get a vaccine, especially because of the increase of cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 variants.

What We Know

This is an extremely rare complication from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, affecting 0.000088 percent of those who have received the vaccine in the U.S. The reason the FDA and CDC are asking for a pause is because of how complicated treating this particular blood clot with low platelets can be.

The FDA and CDC are going back to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to review the six cases and assess the investigation from the FDA. The federal recommendation to pause is so that process can continue.

Johnson & Johnson said it is delaying the vaccine’s rollout in Europe as a result of these complications and is working with U.S. officials to investigate.

In Indiana, the state health department is coordinating getting vaccines to sites that otherwise would have used Johnson & Johnson. But state officials said Johnson & Johnson appointments (outside of IMS) in the next two days should be rescheduled. To do so, call 211 or follow the vaccine link that was provided.

What We Don’t Know

State officials said they don’t know how long the pause will be – that’s dependent on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting on Wednesday.

And because officials don’t know how long of a pause there will be, it’s also difficult for them to estimate if there will be delays in getting Hoosiers vaccinated.

This story has been updated.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.