Louisiana Pauses Use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana’s health department told the state’s vaccine providers Tuesday to stop administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine immediately, after federal officials announced they are investigating possible links between the one-shot vaccine and severe blood clots.

“Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously, and this pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended,” the health department said in its advisory to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies distributing vaccine doses.

“If you are a provider with J&J doses, while you should pause administration, please continue to store them in your refrigerator,” the advisory said.

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Ochsner Health quickly shifted a Tuesday vaccination event in New Orleans that planned to use Johnson & Johnson shots to instead use the two-dose Pfizer vaccine instead.

The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System — which operates Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge among its nine hospitals — also announced it was shifting entirely to the Pfizer and two-dose Moderna vaccines for its immunization events.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended the country “pause” use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six cases of a rare blood clot were found among the 6.8 million people vaccinated with the doses.

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Louisiana’s health department said the blood clots “appear to be extremely rare.” But the agency said anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develops severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of immunization should contact a health care provider.

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