Hawaii will restart Johnson & Johnson vaccinations soon, the health department said Friday, after federal health officials said the benefits of the single-dose vaccine outweigh the rare risk of blood clots.
Hawaii and other states suspended use of the single-dose vaccine on April 13 at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after six cases of a rare blood clotting disorder were found in women ages 18 to 48 who had received the shot.
Federal health authorities found that only 15 vaccine recipients — all women under the age of 60 — had developed the blood clots out of nearly 8 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson shot.
“The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” according to a press release. It stressed the need for warnings about the low risk of clots.
The state Department of Health quickly followed suit, saying it “anticipates it will resume use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine soon,” after the patient screening form is updated.
The pause in the vaccine, one of three that have received emergency authorization from the FDA for use in the United States, had raised worries that it could slow the march toward herd immunity needed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine continues to be another valuable tool in the fight against COVID-19,” the DOH said in a statement. “Those who do not want to wait for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine are encouraged to schedule a vaccine appointment for one of the other vaccine products as soon as possible.”
Before the announcement was made, the president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii said the state has used about half of the 50,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine received so far.
“So we have 20-some thousand doses of the J&J sitting in safe refrigeration right now so that will be available to be used,” Hilton Raethel said on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight” program.