JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's top public health official said Tuesday that he's telling health care providers to refrain from using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine while federal agencies investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs said health care providers should wait for “additional guidance” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. He said Mississippi physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers who have more than 40,000 unused J&J doses on hand should hold onto it.
"Patients who have already Johnson & Johnson should not be overly concerned but just be aware,” Dobbs said during an online news conference.
The CDC and the FDA said Tuesday they were investigating unusual clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation.
Dobbs said none of the six cases was in Mississippi.
The reports appear similar to a rare, unusual type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to another COVID-19 vaccine not yet cleared in the U.S., from AstraZeneca.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.
Dobbs said the risk of severe complications from vaccination is “extremely low.” He said people who have severe headaches, severe abdominal pain or leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccination should call their physician.
“The risk that we’ve seen with this is very, very small, and we need to keep fighting COVID," Dobbs said. "Fighting the COVID pandemic hasn’t been easy this whole time. But we’re still in the fight.”
Nearly 42,000 doses of the single-shot J&J vaccination have been administered in Mississippi, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said Tuesday. That is about 3% of the nearly 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine given in state.
Byers said most of the J&J doses in Mississippi have been administered in clinics. Doses have also been sent to hospitals, prisons, pharmacies and some have been used at Health Department events.
Byers said 54% of the J&J doses in Mississippi have been given to women. More than 65% of the J&J doses have been given to people 50 or older, which is above the age range in which the unusual clots have been found. Byers also said 54% of the doses have gone to white people, and 37% have gone to Black people. Mississippi has about a 38% Black population.