Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that Rhode Island will resume the administration of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. This decision was made following the recommendation last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the temporary pause on the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be lifted. The agencies are confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19.
"This pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine demonstrates that we have rigorous safety systems in place, and those systems work," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We will continue to monitor both the safety and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to see that COVID-19 vaccine is preventing cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities in Rhode Island. Everyone older than 16 years of age is now eligible to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe when it comes to COVID-19."
The pause was announced on April 13th after reports of six people experiencing adverse reactions involving a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). The problems were found up to two weeks after vaccination. During the pause, the issue was reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is a group that advises the CDC. The risk of CVST was also reviewed by medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC. Following this review, the CDC and the FDA determined that the vaccine's benefits outweigh any potential risks, and that it is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
Roughly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. More than 31,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in Rhode Island. There have been no reported cases of CVST among people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Rhode Island.
Appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccine will again be available on www.vaccinateRI.org this week, as well as through other channels. (People can also make appointments by calling 211.) Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose COVID-19 vaccine available to people who are 18 years of age and older.
Rhode Island healthcare providers have been provided with information and guidance about CVST and appropriate medical treatment. Updated clinician guidance will continue to be provided. Healthcare providers should ensure patients understand the risk of any vaccine and have all of their questions answered prior to any vaccine administration. Patients do have a choice of which COVID-19 vaccine they receive. State vaccine sites will do their best to have as many vaccine options as possible.
Although the side effects of concern are extremely rare, the FDA and CDC recommend that people who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should immediately contact their health care provider.