An advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held an emergency session Wednesday, April 14 after the federal government recommended pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Wisconsin has also halted the shots.
The panel opted to continue the pause until there is more information on the vaccine and its relationship with unusual, rare blood clots.
During an hours-long virtual meeting, members of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) heard from a number of experts about the six reports of blood clotting following receipt of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The patients affected -- all white women between the ages of 18 and 48 -- developed an extremely rare and serious condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and thrombocytopenia. It translates to a blood clot that forms in the brain and is accompanied by abnormally low levels of platelets.
Doctors said typical treatment of the blood thinner medication Herapin may actually do more harm. The phenomenon is similar to what has been observed in Europe with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The panel was tasked with determining if there is enough information to make interim recommendations amid the pause. Members of the public were also allowed to briefly comment.
ACIP members weighed public safety with the need to protect people from the coronavirus and concerns about creating unnecessary panic.
The committee noted that a 25-year-old man also suffered the same condition in 2020 during Johnson & Johnson clinical trials.
The condition appears six to 13 days after vaccination, and experts say more cases may be reported in the next two weeks. The most common symptom is a severe headache.