WVU halting Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration based on federal recommendations

Coronavirus

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University will pause its administration of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine based on a joint recommendation released April 13 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Out of more than 6.8 million doses administered in the U.S., six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in individuals who have received the J&J vaccine are being monitored, according to a press release.

“The finding of abnormal blood clotting is extremely rare in citizens receiving the J&J vaccine, and in response to FDA and CDC guidance, and acting out of a great amount of caution, we will pause vaccinations with the J&J product for now,” Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean of WVU Health Sciences and West Virginia’s Coronavirus Czar, said. “The fact that CDC and FDA are acting out of caution for 6 clotting episodes in 6.8 million doses given should reassure West Virginia residents that we are watching any and all associated findings in those vaccinated to make sure safety is our priority.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is convening a meeting on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance, according to WVU. Until that process is complete, WVU will pause in the use of the J&J vaccine on all campuses out of an abundance of caution. WVU will work with people who have appointments to receive the J&J doses, including a clinic scheduled for April 14, to reschedule for Pfizer and Moderna doses based on availability. 

WVU said it administered 846 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during a clinic held April 8 at the Student Recreation Center on the Morgantown Campus. All other clinics held at WVU have administered doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The type of blood clot observed is called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and is seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), the release explains. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given. 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 healthcare provider.

“We know that the key to saving lives and improving outcomes from COVID-19 in West Virginia is continuing to choose to be vaccinated,” Marsh said. “We have sufficient Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue our goal of vaccinating all West Virginia residents, and the key to our success or failure to save lives and protect West Virginia citizens is the number of people choosing to get vaccinated.”  

WVU said it strongly recommends all students and employees be vaccinated for COVID-19. The university suggests that anyone who has questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines should speak with a primary care physician or a representative from WVU Medicine Student Health. People administering vaccines at the Student Recreation Center also can answer any questions. 

WVU will continue to host vaccine clinics on campus at the Student Recreation Center, according to the release. Time slots are now available for West Virginia University’s Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinic on April 20, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center.

The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose, which will be administered at the WVU vaccine clinic on May 10.

Instructions for creating a profile in the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) and scheduling a first-dose appointment are available on the Return to Campus website. Walk-in appointments will be accepted and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, the school said.

Information regarding vaccinations through the WVU Medicine Greater Monongalia County COVID-19 vaccine clinic can be found here

Visit the Return to Campus website for more information and to view FAQs. Email questions or concerns here

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