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Louisiana Suspends Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Amid Investigation Into ‘Rare And Severe’ Blood Clot

Phoebe Jones
Vials of vaccine at a vaccination clinic at the Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel in St. Mary Parish. April 7, 2021.

Louisiana will immediately suspend shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and has asked providers to suspend administration of the one-shot vaccine.

The state’s top public health officials sent a letter to vaccine providers Tuesday.

In the statement, State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter and Medical Director for the Bureau for Community Preparedness Dr. Frank Welch said the decision came after the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control paused the drug’s use at federally operated vaccination clinics and urged states to do the same.

“The State of Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously,” the letter says. “And this pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended.”

The pause is a response to what the federal agencies called a “rare and severe type of blood clot” that occurred in six women in the United States who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The blood clot is called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. It’s the same type of clot associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Public health experts say that people have a much higher chance of severe COVID-19 illness if not vaccinated than they have of experiencing this type of blood clot if they receive a vaccine.

The health department asked vaccine providers to continue to store their doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the pause.

In an interview with New Orleans Public Radio Tuesday afternoon, Kanter said:

"The risk to anyone who has already received the J&J vaccine is very, very small. There have been 85,261 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered in Louisiana. We have not had any reported cases of this type of blood clot from the Johnson & Johnson [vaccine]. Nationwide, the risk at the moment is truly one out of a million — six cases out of 6.8 million doses."

Bobbi-Jeanne Misick is the justice, race and equity reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between NPR, WWNO in New Orleans, WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama and MPB-Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson. She is also an Ida B. Wells Fellow with Type Investigations at Type Media Center.

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