New Mexico suspends the administration of the J&J vaccine

SANTA FE, NM (AP / KRQE) – Just six weeks after the first doses were dispensed in New Mexico, the state Department of Health announced Tuesday that it would stop using the one-time Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in response a federal recommendation. The move comes amid reports of “rare and severe” blood clots in six patients out of 6.8 million doses administered in the United States.

“New Mexico – like the federal government – is acting out of caution,” said DOH Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins in a press release on Tuesday. “When we learn more, we will share this information.”

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According to the CDC, all six reports occurred within 6 to 13 days of being vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine. As of Tuesday, the New Mexico Department of Health said it had heard no reported cases in the state. Almost 39,000 doses of the vaccine have been given in New Mexico since March 1.

NMDOH says people who have received the J&J vaccine and who develop severe headache, blurred vision, seizures, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should contact their doctor. In an interview with KRQE News 13 Tuesday, Matt Bieber, director of communications for NMDOH, shared information about what federal officials have to say about the data collected so far.

“I heard a call this morning with the CDC commission and several other federal medical experts, and their guidance was that if you were vaccinated with J&J more than a month ago, the chances of anything happening are extremely small.” said Bieber said. “Indeed, the likelihood that something will happen to anyone is extremely rare.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Johnson and Johnson said, “There is no clear link between these rare events” and his vaccine. Meanwhile, New Mexico DOH officials say all scheduled Johnson and Johnson vaccinations will either be suspended or switched to Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

As of March 1, New Mexico has received at least 66,200 doses of the vaccine from Johnson and Johnson. The state says nearly 39,000 doses were administered, which is about 3% of the total of 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses used in New Mexico. Matt Bieber, director of communications at NMDOH, called the break a “hiccup” throughout the vaccine run.

“Fortunately, J&J has never made up a large portion of the state’s overall grants, so it won’t make a big dent in our overall administration in the coming weeks,” said Bieber. “But it will have some impact and we just have to see it.”

While the J&J vaccinations remain paused, according to the Ministry of Health, it is ultimately up to the providers whether vaccinations can be swapped for the vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna or whether an appointment has to be postponed. Meanwhile, more and more two-shot vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are rolling into New Mexico.

New Mexico received more than 106,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week. The state continues to administer approximately 115,000 to 120,000 doses per week. Despite the hiatus from J&J, New Mexico is not changing criteria for who can be vaccinated, a process that is now open to anyone ages 16 and older.

“While this is certainly a bump on the road (with J&J) we’re still moving at a fast pace,” said Bieber. “We are still leaders in vaccine distribution, more than half of the adult population has had at least one initial vaccination, now around 35%, more than a third (of adults) are fully vaccinated and we are moving on.

KRQE News 13 asked the New Mexico Department of Health on Tuesday whether it had shot a certain number or percentage of people vaccinated before declaring “herd immunity.” NMDOH says the target is between their 60s and 80 percent of people who get vaccinated, including children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

According to figures published on the NM DOH’s vaccine dashboard website, approximately 42% (885,940 people) of New Mexico’s total 2.1 million residents have received at least one vaccination to date.

Joint CDC and FDA statement on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine:

“As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine had been administered in the US – the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) has been seen in combination with low blood platelet counts (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48 years, and symptoms appeared 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment for this particular type of blood clot is different from treatment that is normally given. Usually an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this situation, the administration of heparin can be dangerous and alternative treatments must be undertaken.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Vaccination Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential relevance. The FDA will review this analysis as it is investigating these cases as well. As a precaution, we recommend that you stop using this vaccine until this process is complete. This is important, in part, to ensure that healthcare providers are aware of the potential for these adverse events and are able to plan appropriate detection and treatment given the unique treatment that is required for this type of blood clot.

At the moment, these adverse events seem extremely rare. The safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems after the COVID-19 vaccination very seriously. People who have received the J&J vaccine and who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should contact their doctor. Healthcare providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at icon. “

Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research

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