Feds recommend pause on J&J vaccines; People shouldn’t be ‘freaking out,’ DeSantis says

Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to calm fears on April 12, 2021, following the federal government's decision to halt distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

For those people who have already gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and those who were in line to get the shot — there’s some news Tuesday:

Federal health officials are recommending a pause on administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, after six reported cases of a rare blood clot in individuals receiving the shot. The six cases involved women between 18 and 48, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One woman died and another has been hospitalized in critical condition, according to The New York Times.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday during a news conference that Florida will follow the recommendations from the federal government and none of the reported cases were in the state.

“I don’t think people should be freaking out,” DeSantis said, adding that he’d recently received the Johnson & Johnson shot. “ I think my arm was sore for 45 minutes and then that was that.”

Still, “we’re respecting that decision. We’re going to follow that recommendation and monitor what they’re doing for the time being,” the governor said.

“But I think what they’re doing is out of an abundance of caution. I don’t think people should be worried who’ve already had it who haven’t had any effects. I think it’s likely going to be very effective for you,” DeSantis.

According to the FDA and the CDC, the  six women developed symptoms within 6 to 13 days after their vaccination. They didn’t include information on the location of the patients.

The CDC and the FDA held a joint press call Tuesday morning to discuss the situation. The CDC will convene a meeting on Wednesday to further examine those Johnson & Johnson cases.

The New York Times also reported earlier about the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which also has seen a few cases of a rare blood-clotting disorder. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the United States, according to the Times.

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the FDA, said the agency is “recommending a pause out of abundance of caution” but patients should consult with their health care providers to determine if they should get the vaccine.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, more than 6.8 million Johnson & Johnson doses have been administered in the United States, according to federal health officials.

The CDC and FDA said in a joint written statement on Tuesday:

“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.

People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

Medicine for patients who have this type of clot would not get the usual blood-thinning medicine, and an alternative treatment would need to be given, according to the federal press release.

Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.”

Florida Phoenix deputy editor Michael Moline contributed to this report.