Oklahoma will resume using Johnson & Johnson vaccine after FDA lifts pause

Dana Branham
Oklahoman

Oklahoma will resume administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine effective immediately, state health officials said Monday. 

Administration of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on hold across the U.S. after the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a temporary pause to investigate several instances of a rare blood clotting disorder in women who had received the vaccine. 

The CDC and FDA said Friday that the agencies recommended resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations with an added warning about the possibility of rare side effects. 

Oklahoma health officials followed the April 13 recommendation from the CDC and FDA to pause administration, instructing vaccination sites across the state to temporarily halt giving Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

In this April 8, 2021 file photo, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a pop up vaccination site in the Staten Island borough of New York. With a green light from federal health officials, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Monday that administration of the one-shot vaccine would resume across the state.

At the time of the pause, health officials had identified six cases of the rare blood clotting response. Through an analysis from the CDC's independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 15 total cases were identified out of nearly 8 million doses administered. 

Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of health with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said the committee's evaluation and decision underscored the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

"The initial decision to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine demonstrates the sensitivity of our country’s vaccine monitoring system and our commitment to take any potential adverse reaction very seriously," Reed said in a statement. 

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Health officials said the vaccine's benefits far outweigh its known and potential risks.

"We are confident that this vaccine continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness and quality," Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. "We recommend people with questions about which vaccine is right for them have those discussions with their health care provider."

Reed encouraged Oklahomans to get vaccinated, saying the vaccines have been proven to be "overwhelmingly safe." 

"We will continue to take all the proper precautions to prioritize the health and safety of all Oklahomans," he said. "We need to use every tool available to stop the spread of this virus and encourage all Oklahomans to continue scheduling vaccine appointments to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”