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At least two mass vaccination site run by the federal government in Texas halted the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine early Tuesday after U.S. health officials recommended that states temporarily stop distributing the vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.”
The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine came after a “rare and severe type of blood clot “ was reported in six women across the nation after getting the shot. Nearly 7 million people across the U.S. have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the FDA.
In Arlington, officials immediately announced that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would not be given on Tuesday at the Community Vaccination Center at AT&T Stadium, one of three Texas sites run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “due to the most recent federal guidance.”
Pfizer second doses will still be available to those who are due a second dose, officials there said in a tweet early Tuesday.
In Houston, health officials said Pfizer doses would be administered at its FEMA site at NRG Park instead of the Johnson & Johnson shot. Harris County health officials also said the vaccine would not be used at any other public health sites, and the county’s mobile vaccine sites would operate as scheduled, using Moderna vaccines.
Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services could not immediately be reached for comment. It was unclear from the state’s reporting website how many Johnson & Johnson doses have been administered in Texas. More than 9 million people in the state have been given at least one dose of vaccine, including those manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer. Nearly 6 million have been fully vaccinated.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will conduct a review of the cases this week. According to news reports, one of the women died and one is in critical condition. All of the affected women were between the ages of 18 and 48.
The agencies recommend that recipients of the vaccine contact a doctor if they experience severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination, according to a joint statement by the FDA and CDC released early Tuesday.
“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare,” the statement said. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”
Texas vaccine efforts, like those in other states, were already stymied this week by a dip in shipments of the vaccine until a Baltimore production plant can be approved for distribution.
Texas had expected to get about half a million doses of that vaccine, but was allotted about 130,000 through state and federal programs, state officials said last week.
About 130 local providers and 11 mass vaccine hubs, including the three federal sites, were allocated Johnson & Johnson vaccines for this week, according to DSHS. Many of those providers were in smaller communities, rural Texas, and along the border.The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been a boon for Texas vaccine efforts because the shot is more easily transported and stored, quickly increases the number of Texans who are fully vaccinated, and is the best one to use in mobile vaccine efforts, state health officials said last week.