Across N.J., some vaccination appointments rescheduled as use of J&J vaccine is paused

At many COVID-19 vaccination clinics across the state, vaccine appointments are being canceled or rescheduled due to the suspension of the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the state. In other locations, people slated to receive the J&J vaccine will instead receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

On Tuesday, New Jersey officials paused the use of the J&J vaccine based on recommendations from the federal government. Federal officials have said that the pause will only last “a matter of days” while they investigate a potential link between the vaccine and extremely rare cases of blood clots. About seven million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States. Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed blood clots after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One person died, and another is in critical condition, according to the Food and Drug Administration said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said About 235,000 J&J vaccines have been administered in the state, with none of the recipients reporting adverse effects.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said J&J vaccinations were being paused out of an abundance of caution. For the six women who developed blood clots, symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. In the six cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets. According to the FDA and CDC, people who have received the vaccine and develop abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, a severe headache, or other unusual symptoms within three weeks after vaccination should contact a health care provider.   

“All New Jersey vaccination sites have been told to cancel or put on hold appointments for the J&J vaccine until further notice. For individuals scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine, the department will work with all vaccination sites to make arrangements for the administration of an alternative two-dose vaccine,” Persichilli said. “We will work with all sites, as needed, to reschedule vaccination appointments.  The Department will await further guidance from the federal government.”

The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the adverse events and make recommendations to the CDC on how to proceed.

Major pharmacies like CVS, RiteAid, and Walgreens have scrambled to cancel and reschedule vaccination appointments.

The Princeton Health Department received 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday and has postponed a vaccination clinic until further notice.

Somerset County will be shifting its allocation of Moderna vaccines to seniors and underserved closed pod clinics. The county will be suspending its new mobile homebound vaccination program until the J&J vaccine review is completed.

On Tuesday, staff at Atlantic City’s COVID-19 vaccination mega-site scrambled to postpone or reschedule 200 appointments for the now-suspended Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to NJ Spotlight, the setback put a temporary dent in concerted efforts to vaccinate 25,000 casino workers by Memorial Day as the gaming industry prepares for the summer season.