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Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused, Link to Rare Blood Clotting Disorder

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Apr. 13 2021, Updated 11:56 a.m. ET

The use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been paused after one woman died and another is in critical condition due to a rare blood clotting disorder that might be linked to the vaccine.

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Six people have developed rare and severe blood clots within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. All of the individuals who suffered from adverse reactions are women between the age of 18 and 48. 

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According to the CDC, more than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson & Johnson shot, while 9 million more doses have been shipped throughout the country.

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, in a joint statement.

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Why the blood clotting is dangerous.

CDC officials say that the type of blood clot possibly caused by the vaccine is cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). The type of blood clot was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). While many blood clots can be successfully treated with the anticoagulant drug Heparin, using Heparin on this type of blood clot can be dangerous.

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The CDC recommended pausing the vaccine while its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews the cases. Through the investigation, the CDC hopes to make healthcare providers aware of the potential for the rare disorder and the unique treatment required. 

The blood clotting disorder symptoms include severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination. Anyone experiencing these symptoms after receiving the vaccine should contact a health provider. 

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“These adverse events appear to be extremely rare. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously,” the CDC statement says. 

Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause impacts Biden's plan

The announcement could impact the Biden administration’s plan to have all 260 million adults in the U.S. vaccinated by the end of May. 

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Most of the vaccines administered in the U.S. come from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require two shots to be effective. Over 23 million doses of those vaccines are administered each week, and neither has shown significant safety concerns.

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Last month, Europe faced similar issues with blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine. Of the 34 million people who received the AstraZeneca shot, 222 experienced blood clots, many within 14 days of vaccination. 

How the vaccine pause impacts Johnson & Johnson stock

The announcement of the halt on the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) vaccine hit the company on Wall Street when shares dropped 1.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the news benefited other vaccine makers Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna, who all saw an increase in shares early on April 13. BioNTech (BNTX), which partners with Pfizer on its vaccine, saw its shares jump 5.7 percent to a four-month high. Pfizer (PFE) shares climbed 1.1 percent, while Moderna (MRNA) shares shot up 8.6 percent.

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