Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on “pause” while U.S. reviews blood clot cases

In an abundance of caution, federal vaccination sites are temporarily stopping the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Janssen vaccine, per the direction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). States are also being urged to do the same as safety issues are examined.

Dr. James Napoli, Chief Medical Officer at Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona (BCBSAZ) shared, “Although there is a pause in the J&J Janssen vaccine, BCBSAZ advises all eligible Arizonans to continue to make appointments for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.”

Nearly seven million people in the United States have received the Johnson & Johnson Janssen shot so far, which is less than 5% of the vaccinated population in the United States to date.

The FDA and CDC are reviewing six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine. All six cases were women between the ages of 18 and 48, and all developed the illness within three weeks of vaccination.

While these cases are very limited, health authorities advise that people who have received the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and develop severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their healthcare provider.

Local CVS and Walgreens pharmacies participating in the federal program have also stopped administering the J&J vaccine. Other federally run vaccination sites are expected to do the same.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines NOT affected 

Most of the vaccine supply in Arizona comes from two other manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. These two vaccines represent the majority of the four million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Arizona. Federal officials stressed Tuesday that there have been no significant safety concerns about either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA, a different technology than what the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses to produce immunity. 

To learn more about how the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work, watch this video.

Register for a vaccine today

If you had previously scheduled an appointment to get the J&J Janssen vaccine, we encourage you to register for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine*, as appointments are becoming more widely available.

Register for appointments anywhere in Arizona by going to azdhs.gov or you can call the ADHS vaccine hotline at 480-573-0332, TTY: 711; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Make sure you wait for a representative to help you schedule an appointment.

Download this guide for scheduling your vaccine appointment from ADHS with step-by-step instructions on how to create an account and schedule a vaccine appointment.

If no appointments are available, be sure to check back often, as appointments continue to open.

Cost: The vaccine is $0 for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona members.

Appointments are required to be vaccinated at any POD (point of dispensing) site.

We will continue to provide updates as we learn more about new findings for the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine.

Additional COVID-19 Resources

For more information about COVID-19, vaccines, and how you can protect yourself and your family, visit azblue.com/coronavirus.

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*Pfizer is the only vaccine that is approved for those 16 and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for individuals 18 and older. Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and the Cross and Shield Symbols are registered service marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. © 2021 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Inc., an independent licensee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.