PRESS RELEASE – Use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine paused on the Navajo Nation in accordance with CDC and FDA recommendations
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – On Tuesday, Indian Health Service and all tribal health facilities on the Navajo Nation paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of the vaccine based on six reported U.S. cases, out of 6.8 million doses administered nationally, of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the CDC, the individuals were all women between the ages of 18 and 48 and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after being vaccinated. The events reported are extremely rare and further findings from the CDC and FDA review with Johnson & Johnson is forthcoming.
“We fully support pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the Navajo Nation until we receive the findings of the investigation. Navajo Area IHS informed us that approximately 4,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson had been administered on the Navajo Nation prior to today’s announcement and there have been no major side effects reported. We will continue working with the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Area IHS, and tribal health facilities to monitor the status of those who received this particular vaccine. Our health care experts indicate that today’s announcement by the CDC and FDA does not impact the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” said President Nez.
According to an IHS statement issued on Tuesday, COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government and is taking all reports of adverse events seriously and has vaccine safety monitoring systems in place. To date, there have been no cases reported through IHS of the rare and severe type of blood clot seen in some individuals who have received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
IHS further stated, “This announcement from the CDC and FDA will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine makes up approximately 1.5% percent of our recorded shots in arms to date and less than 5% across the entire U.S. IHS does not expect this pause to affect IHS’ goal of fully vaccinating 44 percent of its active adult patients by the end of April.”
IHS employees have been advised to reach out to patients that may already have an appointment scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine and offer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines when available and appropriate.
As a precaution, if you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and experience severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within the three weeks after receiving the vaccine, please contact your provider immediately. People should not be concerned about mild headaches and body aches in the first few days after vaccination. Those are common, temporary side effects brought on by the immune system’s response to the vaccine.
“The vaccines are key to fighting COVID-19, so it’s very important that we support the investigation and review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. While the review is in the process, we are informed that health care workers will continue administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on the Navajo Nation,” said Vice President Myron Lizer.
The joint statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration is available online at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0413-JJ-vaccine.html.
For more information, including helpful prevention tips, and resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website: http://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19. For COVID-19 related questions and information, call (928) 871-7014.