Pausing use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been put on hold statewide by the Washington State Department of Health. This is following the guidance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), until we receive further recommendations from federal partners. Safety is the highest priority for all COVID-19 vaccines.

This action is taken out of an abundance of caution after reports of a rare, severe type of blood clot in six people out of the nearly seven million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The J&J vaccine provides great benefits in protecting people from serious COVID-19 infections.

National vaccine safety monitoring systems have identified an association between this vaccine and a rare type of serious blood clotting disorder. This safety signal has not been identified with the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. Over the coming days, we will have more information about the risk of this rare event after vaccination in relation to the benefits of vaccination, including risk related to age and gender, and whether any changes are needed in how we use the J & J vaccine.”

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County.

What if I already got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

If you received the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk of this complication is very low. People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last three weeks should monitor for symptoms. If you develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, contact your health care provider or an urgent care center.

About 149,000 doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in Washington so far, out of more than four million total vaccine doses. At this time, the Washington State Department of Health has no knowledge of any of the six patients being Washington state residents.

Please note that the J&J vaccine is effective at protecting against infection from COVID-19 – if you received a J&J vaccine dose, you are still considered fully vaccinated.

I’m scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. What do I do?

Contact your vaccine provider for information about your appointment. J&J vaccines will not be administered, so your appointment may be rescheduled or you may be offered a different vaccine.

Some details on how this will impact vaccine distribution in King County:

  • Auburn high-volume vaccination site at the Auburn Outlet Mall: Anyone who currently has an appointment scheduled at the Auburn Outlet Mall vaccination site can keep their appointment and receive the Moderna vaccine instead of J&J. The Auburn site has paused scheduling new appointments.
  • Kent high-volume vaccination site at Showare Center: Appointments at the Kent vaccination site use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and are not affected.
  • Community partner vaccination sites: Several thousand J&J doses were distributed to community partners by Public Health this week. Public Health has contacted them to pause administering J&J vaccines and await further information.
  • City of Seattle community vaccination fixed sites: All currently scheduled appointments will remain scheduled using the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Mobile vaccination: Public Health’s planned mobile vaccine visits to homeless service sites and homebound individuals will use Moderna vaccine instead of J&J.
  • King County jails: Vaccination is currently paused.

Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue to provide updated information as we receive it.

Originally published April 13, 2021