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Tennessee resumes Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine administration after review of risks

The CDC and FDA investigated clots in six women days after they received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of nearly 7 million doses administered.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE (April 23): The Tennessee Department of Health announced Friday that it would resume administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The decision came after an analysis of the risks and benefits of the vaccine. The state temporarily paused administration of it after finding cases of rare but serious blood clots in people who received the vaccine. Officials said 15 cases were reported, and that the risk of developing the condition is around 7 in 1 million for women between 18-49 years old.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviewed those cases and voted to recommend resuming administration of the vaccine without restrictions for people 18 years old and older. 

“The independent review process conducted by ACIP further shows the amount of scrutiny and review that goes into ensuring the safety of all vaccines used in this country, including those that protect against COVID-19,” said Lisa Piercey, the Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner.  “We’re excited to get this third vaccine option back into use in Tennessee.”

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which use mRNA technology, have not been associated with rare blood clotting cases.

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OLD STORY (April 13): The Tennessee Department of Health said the state will join others across the U.S. in pausing administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following six reports of clotting in women days after they received it. 

Several states have chosen to put a pause on the single-dose vaccine at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration Tuesday following reports of serious adverse reactions.

The agencies are investigating rare and unusual clots, saying the six cases out of nearly 7 million doses occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination in women between the ages of 18 and 48. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain, and there was one death reported.

"While the reports of serious adverse events after the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are rare, six cases out of nearly 7 million doses administered, TDH is taking necessary precautions and is coordinating with our vaccine providers that may have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in supply to ensure those in our state who are seeking a vaccine have access to vaccines manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna," the TDH said.

The department said supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine continues to exceed demand, and said it does not anticipate the shift to impact vaccination efforts. The state is working with providers who may have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to ensure they have access to the other two in the meantime.

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said she believes the pause will only last for a matter of days to allow time to investigate the circumstances behind the clotting cases. The CDC said it has not seen similar clots or reactions with people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.