Washington state to resume use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The Washington Department of Health announced Monday that the state will be immediately resuming the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
This officially concludes an 11-day pause on use of the vaccine in Washington, following six instances where women reported a “rare but severe type of blood clot” known as thrombocytopenia. As of last Friday, the CDC has reported 15 total cases (a number that includes the six initial cases). The state DOH says it is “not aware of any cases in Washington.”
Because existing data indicates that cases of thrombocytopenia brought on by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are extremely rare among the roughly 8 million doses administered, the DOH has concluded that the “known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.”
“Above all else, safety is our top priority,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said in a written release. “The pause was proof the surveillance systems in place to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines are working.”
This comes after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted last Friday to “reaffirm its recommendation” of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for anyone over the age of 18, while also recommending that the FDA “include a warning statement” and an information sheet at vaccination sites informing people of the possible risk.
“These findings once again show we have three vaccines available that are effective and safe,” Shah said.
During the pause on distributing the J&J vaccine, Washington had an estimated 170,000 doses “held by providers across the state.” Washington expects to begin receiving additional doses from the federal government beginning the week of May 2, “when 4,300 doses are expected to arrive.”