Colorado To Resume Using Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Again After FDA, CDC Lift Pause

r m
David Zalubowski/AP Photo
Boxes containing the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sit next to vials in the pharmacy of National Jewish Hospital for distribution early Saturday, March 6, 2021, in east Denver. Volunteers worked with nurses and physicians from National Jewish to administer 2,500 vaccinations of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that requires a single shot instead of two like the other vaccines.

Updated 6:33 p.m.

Colorado vaccine providers will immediately start using the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine now that a federal health advisory committee recommended that a pause on the vaccine should end.

“We are happy to have this highly effective, one-dose vaccine back as an option for Coloradans,” said Dr. Eric France, the state health department’s chief medical officer, in a statement. “We appreciate the caution the CDC and FDA took to evaluate the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are ready to ramp back up distribution as quickly as possible.”

Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused on April 13 after reports of serious but very rare blood clots were observed in six people, none of which were in Colorado. Out of more than 8 million people vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot, health officials uncovered 15 cases of the rare clotting disorder, three of which were fatal, the New York Times reported. All of the cases were women, most were younger than 50.  

The Colorado Department of Health and the Environment will include the Food and Drug Administration’s warning to patients about the increased risk of the rare side effect with the one-dose vaccine. The department has also sent information to health care providers on how to identify and treat the rare clotting disorder. Vaccine providers are required to report any side effects from any of the COVID-19 vaccines to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System

The advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks, especially as cases of COVID-19 are on the rise. The Food and Drug Administration has updated the fact sheets for providers and recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with information about the side effects.

Denver Health said in a statement issued Friday night that it will wait for guidance from federal agencies and the state health department before making a decision. 

“Vaccine options are important, and we want to be able to provide our patients with the most accurate information for any vaccines we use,” the statement said. “Denver Health is continuing to use COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in its clinics.”