US pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine over blood clot concerns


The United States has recommended a pause in the administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of potentially dangerous blood clots post-vaccination. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said in a joint statement on April 13, 2021 that they are investigating clots in six women that occurred in the days after vaccination.

The blood clots were observed along with reduced platelet counts making the usual treatment for blood clots potentially dangerous. 

Key Highlights 

•Besides the United States, the European Union and South Africa have also temporarily halted the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid vaccine after reports of rare blood clotting.

•The cases are similar to those that were reported in the EU after doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which prompted curbs on its use.

•According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), six cases of blood clotting were detected in more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine. 

•All six cases were in women aged between 18 and 48 years. Their blood clot symptoms appeared nearly six to 13 days after vaccination.

•Till now, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States, a vast majority of whom showed no or mild side effects. 

•The Food and Drug Administration said it was recommending the temporary pause “out of an abundance of caution”. The organisation also confirmed that one patient had died from blood clotting complications, while another is in a critical condition.

•The other two authorised vaccines in the US- Pfizer and Moderna- will not be affected by the pause. 

What will happen next?

•The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices is scheduled to meet today to discuss the blood clotting cases. The FDA has also launched an investigation into the cause of the low platelet counts and blood clots. 

•The health bodies have recommended a pause in the use of the vaccine till the process of investigation is complete, just out of an abundance of caution. 

•They have also recommended those who were given the J&J vaccine and are experiencing severe headache, shortness of breath, leg pain or abdominal pain with three weeks of receiving the shot to contact their health care provider. 

•The health officials also want to educate vaccine providers and health professionals about the unique treatment required for this type of clot.


Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine had received emergency use authorization from the FDA in late February 2020. The vaccine had raised hopes of speeding up vaccinations across the country as it is just a single dose and requires relatively simple storage requirements.  

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