Drive-up vaccination
A drive-up vaccination. Courtesy LA County Department of Public Health

Questions about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were raised Tuesday morning following reports that federal health agencies have recommended an immediate pause in use of the single-dose shot after six U.S. recipients developed serious blood clots.

There was no immediate word from Los Angeles County or L.A. City officials about what that could mean at area vaccination facilities.

L.A. County this week received an allocation of 323,470 doses of vaccine — including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna. That represents an overall drop of roughly 80,000 from last week, due to a major reduction in supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

County health officials were anticipating supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to being increasing again in the coming weeks — but now new questions could change plans.

According to a report in The New York Times, officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are recommending an immediate pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the six U.S. recipients — all women between the ages of 18 and 48 — developed serious blood clots within two weeks of getting vaccinated.

One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska was hospitalized in critical condition, the report said.

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in a joint statement, according to The Times.

“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the CDC has scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday.

The FDA and CDA statement also said the pause is important, “in part, to ensure that the healthcare 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.”

Published reports quoted a Johnson & Johnson statement as saying, “At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events” and the company’s vaccine.

“We continue to work closely with experts and regulators to assess the data and support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public,” the statement added.

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