The Department of Defense (DOD) said it is halting the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to military members after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended the move, citing rare blood clots.
“At the recommendation of the FDA and CDC, the Department of Defense is immediately pausing the use of the J&J vaccine,” DOD press secretary John Kirby said in a statement on Tuesday.
A number of states have halted using the J&J vaccine against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus after the CDC and FDA recommendations earlier in the day. Federal officials said they didn’t find rare blood clots among the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients.
“The safety of our force and their families is a top priority for the Department. We are communicating this pause to our military health facilities and are reviewing our global vaccine distribution to address this issue and ensure we can continue to provide vaccines to our DoD population at home and abroad,” Kirby said.
Johnson & Johnson told news outlets that it would delay rollout of the vaccine to Europe, a week after regulators there said they were reviewing rare blood clots in four recipients of the shot in the United States.
FDA official Peter Marks said it was “plainly obvious” the J&J cases were “very similar” to the AstraZeneca ones.
However, officials said there had been no similar blood clot cases reported among recipients of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which use a different mRNA technology.
The White House said the J&J vaccine pause would not have a “significant” impact on its plan to administer about three million shots per day and a total of 200 million before President Joe Biden’s 100th day in office.
Meanwhile, officials said that about 40 percent of U.S. Marines have declined to get vaccinated.
“We fully understand that widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat this pandemic. The key to addressing this pandemic is building vaccine confidence,” said Woods, according to USA Today.
“The Navy and Marine Corps are providing substantial educational information broadly, and working with commands to ensure Marines, Sailors, and beneficiaries have accurate information regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines to encourage individuals to get immunized,” Woods said.
Johnson & Johnson said in response that the “safety and well-being of people who use our products” is the company’s number one priority, adding it is aware of an “extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine.”
The firm added it’s “reviewing these cases with European health authorities,” and it had “made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.”
Reuters contributed to this report.