Tennessee, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

After six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in patients who received the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are recommending a pause on administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The Tennessee Department of Health announced April 13 it will pause administration statewide as a result.

"The Tennessee Department of Health is acting upon recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine," officials said in the announcement. "Our vaccine supply continues to surpass demand and we do not anticipate this shift will impact our efforts to vaccinate as many Tennesseans as possible. We continue to monitor the situation closely."

The six cases occurred six to 13 days after vaccination in women between the ages of 18-48, according to a joint statement from the FDA and CDC.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a media conference that one case was fatal, and one patient is in critical condition.

The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the least administered nationwide among the three versions of the vaccine available to Americans. According to CDC data, about 6.9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered, accounting for about 3.6% of all doses. There have been no similar complications reported as a result of either the Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech vaccines.


In Tennessee, approximately 317,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been delivered through public and private providers, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Officials said they have begun working with providers to help provide them with the Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in place of the Johnson & Johnson version.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said anyone who received the vaccine within about the last two weeks should be aware of symptoms including severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath and contact their health care provider to seek medical treatment if the symptoms occur.

"These symptoms are different from the mild, flu-like symptoms that many people experience in the couple of days after receiving the vaccine," Schuchat said in the call with reporters.

Although the cases are extremely rare—fewer than one in 1 million recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines experienced the blood clot—the CDC and FDA are reviewing the cases during this recommended pause. Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA, told reporters she expects the pause to be "a matter of days."

Marks emphasized the FDA and CDC message to providers is a recommendation and not a mandate, leaving both medical providers and patients to make individual decisions.

"If an individual health care provider has a conversation with an individual patient and they determine that the benefit-risk for that individual patient is appropriate, we’re not going to stop that provider from administering the vaccine," he said.

Wendy Sturges contributed to this report.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


MOST RECENT

Westhaven (Photos by Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Westhaven Town Center complete; incumbents re-elected to Brentwood City Commission and more top news from the Nashville area

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Brentwood and Franklin in the Nashville area.

The city celebrated the grand opening of the new police headquarters on Heritage Way in April. (Photos courtesy city of Brentwood)
City of Brentwood debuts $29 million police headquarters

The $29 million project, which is funded through the city’s capital improvement program, features more than 56,000 square feet of space, a far cry from the department’s existing offices at Brentwood City Hall. The department is expected to move employees to the new space by June 1, according to the city.

Owners Robin and Shawn Davis opened the Franklin location of Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish on Murfreesboro Road in 2014. (Photos courtesy Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish)
Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish offers a hot take on fried chicken and fish

While heat levels range from the original, no-heat option to Death Row, owner Shawn Davis said he recommends first-time diners start with a lower heat level and work their way up.

Three incumbents retained their seats on the Brentwood City Commission. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
3 incumbents re-elected to Brentwood City Commission

Results from the May 4 Brentwood city elections are in.

Three spots on the Brentwood City Commission are up for grabs this year. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Incumbents take early lead in Brentwood City Commission election

See live coverage of the Brentwood City Commission election here.

Fire damage caused the Red Pony to temporarily shut down its Main Street location in Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Red Pony reopens at temporary location while completing repairs from fire

The restaurant's location on Main Street has been closed since late January, when a fire caused damage to the building.

Work on the Southeast Municipal Complex is underway in Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Transportation updates: 3 road projects in Franklin, Brentwood to watch

Take a look at local road projects coming down the pipeline.

There are a number of eateries in Franklin and Brentwood to find breakfast dishes and pastries. (Courtesy Sugar Drop)
GUIDE: 18 places to get breakfast and brunch in Franklin, Brentwood

Which one of these brunch spots is on your list to try?

Buff City Soap opened in Franklin May 6. (Courtesy Buff City Soap)
Buff City Soap now open in Franklin

The shop sells handmade soap bars in a variety of scents.

Tori Cozert and her mother, Tammy Ringenberg, took ownership of AR Workshop Franklin last July. (Photos by Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mother-daughter team makes creative environment for crafting in at AR Workshop Franklin in Cool Springs

Projects at the workshop include wood items, such as painted boards, planters, pillows and lazy Susans, as well as soft items, such as pillows, canvas tote bags and knit blankets, a popular item in colder months.

The city of Brentwood's police and fire departments will host a blood drive May 5.  (Courtesy Sanford Myers and American Red Cross)
Brentwood to host Battle of the Badges blood drive May 5

The drive comes as the American Red Cross is reporting a critical need for blood donations.

Active cases in Williamson County have dropped by 33% in the last month. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County active COVID-19 cases drop to lowest levels since September

Active cases have dropped by 1/3 in the last month, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health.