4/13 – Update on CDC/FDA-recommended pause on J&J/Janssen vaccine

April 13, 2021—Following the CDC/FDA announcement of April 13, the USC Student Health vaccinations scheduled at the Lyon Center for April 15 and 16 will now be switched from J&J/Janssen to Pfizer first doses. 

Patients are advised to prioritize their schedules to receive a second dose given 21 days after the first dose; this may impact student plans related to travel after the academic semester ends. A second dose will be reserved for you at Student Health; you will receive a reminder to schedule your second dose within 7 days of the 21-day milestone. 

Facts about the recommended pause 

• As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. 

• The current pause allows the health care community to review data involving six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

• In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. 

Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given. 

• CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday April 14 to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, the CDC and FDA are recommending a pause in vaccination with the J&J/Janssen vaccine. 

• Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for health officials and the health care community and all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination are taken very seriously. 

• This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot. 

Thank you for your participation. Vaccines are safe and a key tool in helping us fight the COVID-19 pandemic. General questions about the USC campus vaccination program may be directed to the COVID-19 hotline, 213-740-6291, or covid19@usc.edu.