Top U.S. health officials on Tuesday called for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine while they review cases of rare blood clots in people receiving the shots.
The officials said they are reviewing six cases of a “rare and severe type of blood clot” out of more than 6.8 million people in the U.S. who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
All six cases were in women between ages 18 and 48.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet on Wednesday to review the cases, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will look into them as well.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” said Peter Marks, a top FDA official, and Anne Schuchat, a top CDC official, in a joint statement. “This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”
The type of blood clot in question, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, requires different treatment than blood clots usually do. The agencies said they want health providers to be able to plan for them.
Marks and Schuchat stressed that “these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”