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PA pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to rare blood clots

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania said it is following the federal government’s recommendation and pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during an investigation into reports of unusual blood clots.

The state Department of Health told all COVID-19 vaccine providers in the state to stop administering the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine until at least April 20 “out of an abundance of caution.”

According to federal data, Pennsylvania has received 778,000 doses of the J&J vaccine and administered more than 257,000.

The Wolf administration had reserved its initial allotment of the J&J vaccine for educators. The vast majority of Pennsylvania residents who have been vaccinated received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, which are unaffected by the pause.

In the Philadelphia suburbs, Montgomery and Delaware counties said ahead of the state’s announcement that they would temporarily stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Delaware had been using some of its allotment to reach homebound and homeless people and said it will switch to using the Moderna vaccine for those programs. A large-scale vaccination site at Delaware County Community College that had been using the J&J vaccine will be relocated and will administer either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, a spokesperson said.

Montgomery County also suspended J&J vaccination clinics. A spokesperson said county officials got a brief message from the state Department of Health at 8 a.m. Tuesday that said, “Please pause vaccine administration of this product until you hear from us. Our medical team is reviewing.”

Separately, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said vaccine clinics in the city will stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “until we receive further guidance.” Some city clinics were forced to close Tuesday, while others were to be switched to other approved COVID-19 vaccines. Philadelphia gets its allotment directly from the federal government.

A mass vaccination site run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency switched to Pfizer and does not plan to cancel appointments for now, though the city hadn’t yet released details for how those residents will get second doses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced that they were investigating rare but potentially dangerous blood clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The FDA expected the pause to last a matter of days.

All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died, and all of the cases remain under investigation.

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