NJ to pause vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson shot

New Jersey will follow federal guidance and put Johnson & Johnson vaccines on hold, the state's top health official said Tuesday.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said all of the state's vaccination sites — about 700 total, officials have said — will cancel or put appointments for the J&J vaccine on hold.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration 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 cases remained under investigation.

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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.

Jennifer Long, 50, of Franklin Lakes, had a 7:40 a.m. appointment Tuesday for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a Walmart in Riverdale.

She considered skipping it, given reports that a few women had developed blood clots after getting the J&J vaccine, but she wanted the protection because she lives with her 91-year-old father.

Moments after getting the shot, she opened her phone to news the U.S. was now recommending a pause to study the issue.

"I showed the pharmacist the breaking news on my phone. I think I got the last one," said Long, a lawyer and adjunct law professor at Georgetown University. "I mean, I wasn’t happy. I was a little panicked."

Her sister, a nurse, talked her "off the ledge," reminding her that the number of reported problems was very low and the link uncertain.

"I feel like there are a lot of unknowns, but the only known is how severe COVID can be if you get it," Long said.

RELATED: US recommends ‘pause’ on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate rare clotting reports

The pause in New Jersey comes just as the supply of J&J vaccines ebbs from more than 130,000 last week to 15,000 this week. Next week just 5,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine are expected, Persichilli said.

Along with the New Jersey sites, federally run mass vaccination sites will pause the use of the J&J shot.

The other two authorized vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, make up the vast share of COVID-19 shots administered in the U.S. and are not affected by the pause.