Virginia pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccines after FDA recommendation

Virginia’s vaccination coordinator said the commonwealth is pausing all Johnson & Johnson vaccines, in accordance with the recommendation earlier Tuesday from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We will cease all Johnson & Johnson vaccines until this investigation is complete,” Dr. Danny Avula said in a statement. “If you have an upcoming appointment for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will be contacted to reschedule that appointment.”

Avula called the pause “reassuring in that it demonstrates that the systems that are in place to monitor vaccine safety are working.”

“Hopefully, this is just a small setback that we will overcome,” Gov. Ralph Northam said at the Metz Middle School, in Manassas, where he toured a vaccination site Tuesday morning.

He emphasized that the number of people who have reported the clotting problems in “a small number” – six out of nearly 7 million – but said, “We’re going to rely on the guidance of the CDC and the FDA … this is something that we take very seriously.”

He added that the commonwealth would resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as soon as the FDA and CDC give the green light again.

The governor called the rollout of vaccinations “the light and the hope at the end of this long dark tunnel.”

The Metz site was supposed to have been giving out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Northam said, but had switched over to Pfizer, giving people appointments to come back for the required second dose. He added that that switch was a demonstration of the “flexibility” that would get Virginia through the crisis.

The governor also predicted that all three vaccines would be approved for children “by this summer.”

“From what I’ve heard, those trials are going well,” said Northam, a pediatric neurologist.

The recommendation from the FDA came after six women between the ages of 18 and 48 were found to have unusual clotting in the veins that lead away from the brain. About 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He went to George Washington University as an undergraduate and is regularly surprised at the changes to the city since that faraway time.

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