DENVER – Colorado on Tuesday suspended the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine while federal officials investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots in a handful of vaccine recipients.
Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment announced the pause after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating unusual clots that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48. There was one death.
The state health department says the J&J vaccine represents a small portion of Colorado’s weekly vaccine allocation and that most vaccine clinics will not be affected.
Colorado’s vaccine allocation this week included nearly 280,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and 9,700 doses of the J&J vaccine.
State health officials urged people to contact their health care providers if they received the J&J vaccine over the last three weeks and developed severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. People who got the vaccine more than a month ago are at very low risk of any serious side effects.
State officials said that people who had been scheduled to get the J&J vaccine will get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead. Some may have their vaccine appointments rescheduled. Colorado’s mobile vaccination buses, which administered the J&J vaccine, are canceling operations until further notice.
About 122,280 J&J doses have been administered in Colorado, out of nearly 3.3 million total doses, according to health department data.
Providers who have doses of the J&J vaccine should store it for the time being, the department said.
A CDC panel was scheduled to review the cases of blood clots at an emergency meeting Wednesday.
Last week, Colorado health care provider Centura Health said it decided to stop using the J&J vaccine at three mass vaccination sites after 11 people reported feeling adverse effects, including nausea and dizziness, after getting the shot in Commerce City on April 7. About 1,700 people were vaccinated that day, Colorado Public Radio reported.
Centura said a national shortage of the vaccine also factored into its decision. The company said it was using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines instead for more than 24,000 people with appointments between April 10 and April 14 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs and the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.