The White House downplayed the significance of a temporary halt in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines at federal vaccination sites Tuesday morning, just hours after the CDC and FDA announced the move.
“This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said in a statement.
Federal agencies recommended a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccines after six people who received the shot, out of 7 million Americans in total, developed a rare form of blood clotting. The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they would examine whether the rare clots were linked to the vaccine.
“I’d like to stress these events appear to be extremely rare. However COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority,” FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said at a press conference. “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”
Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC, said that the pause was enacted so that there would be time to inform medical workers of how to deal with the type of blood clot if they encounter a case. Known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, the extremely rare disorder requires a specific method of treatment.
“We included the pause…so that there is time for the health care community to learn what they need to learn about how to diagnose, treat, and report” the issue, Schuchat said.
Most vaccines distributed in the U.S. are made by Moderna and Pfizer. The CDC has seen no clotting issues among the nearly 200 million doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines administered.