Texas Lifts Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, Tells Providers to Resume Use

The announcement comes a day after the CDC and FDA recommended the pause be lifted

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Texas has lifted its pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following an announcement from federal health agencies that the benefits outweigh its risks, the state health department announced Saturday.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said it has notified vaccine providers that they should resume using the J&J COVID-19 vaccine.

The statewide announcement comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended the pause be lifted and providers resume vaccinations.

The CDC estimates that use of the J&J vaccine in the U.S. will prevent more than 2,00 intensive care admissions and 1,400 deaths over the next six months.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an important tool in our fight against COVID-19, and the scientific review over the last 11 days has affirmed its safety and effectiveness,” DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said. “We know some Texans prefer the simplicity of a single-dose vaccine, and the ease of storing and handling this vaccine gives providers more flexibility. Resuming the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will prevent hospitalizations and save lives in Texas.”

No Texas providers were allocated doses of the vaccine for the upcoming week, according to information provided by the health department Friday, however some had doses on hand and may use them again, department spokesman Chris Van Deusen said.

Van Deusen said the department expects the federal government will allow ordering of the J&J vaccine as early as this weekend.

Federal and state agencies paused the use of the J&J vaccine on April 13 following six reports of a rare and severe type of blood clot out of more than 6.8 million doses administered.

In total, 15 cases of the adverse effect, known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, have been reported and at least one has resulted in death. All have occurred in women between 18 and 49, with a median age of 37, according to the CDC.

The agency said the adverse outcome breaks down to just 1.9 out of every million doses for women 18-49. For those 50 and up, it's just 0.9.

A woman in Texas was hospitalized after having received the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. No additional details were provided about the patient, but the state health department said Thursday that the woman's symptoms appeared consistent to the other cases that preceded the pause.

Providers have administered 616,000 doses of the J&J vaccine in Texas, the health department said.

The initial pause was intended, in part, to give the CDC and FDA time to reach healthcare agencies and instruct them on how to recognize TTS and treat patients.

Chief State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Shuford said Thursday that, in the case of the vaccine pause, the safety monitoring system in place worked as intended, which she hopes increases confidence that the system works.

DSHS said it has shared information on how to treat TTS with health care professionals as well as information for recipients of the vaccine.

Anyone who receives the J&J vaccine should seek medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms within three weeks of receiving the vaccine:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection

It could take time for some providers to get the vaccine back into circulation.

CVS and Wallgreens told NBC News they'd begin making J&J appointments next week.

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