May 17, 2021
Recently, the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was allowed to resume after a short pause.* We’d like to take a moment to explain why this happened and what is being done to ensure vaccine safety.
How vaccines are monitored
Scientists and doctors review every report of side effects or adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines. It was during this safety monitoring that reports of a rare, but serious, condition involving blood clots with low platelets, were identified in six people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The condition was primarily reported in adult women between 18 and 50 years old. While the number of reports was, and remains, very small, it prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend a pause of the vaccine’s use. This pause allowed scientists the time to review the safety data, and it gave both agencies the time to communicate with doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare professionals, re-emphasizing the importance of reporting severe reactions in people who receive the Johnson & Johnson or any other COVID-19 vaccine.
The success of safety systems
Before the pause, more than 6 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been given. The ability of vaccine safety monitoring systems to identify the small number of people experiencing this rare condition confirms that the systems are working well. It also shows an unwavering commitment by the CDC and FDA to ensure that you and your family have access to safe and effective vaccinations.
The confidence to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
After reviewing all available data during the temporary pause, the FDA and CDC determined the known and potential benefits of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the known and potential risks. On April 23, the agencies recommended that the use of the vaccine resume. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is still authorized for use in all individuals over the age of 18, but women 50 and under should be aware of the rare, but increased, risk of blood clots.
As always, the FDA and CDC will continue to review the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, including the two other FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines available from Pfizer and Moderna. We, in turn, will keep you up to date with those findings.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines
For additional information on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, visit anthem.com/coronavirus. You’ll find resources such as:
*Please visit the CDC's website for more information about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, including information about a very small number of reports involving a rare and severe type of blood clot in people who have received it. No one has reported similar blood clotting events associated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please talk to your doctor.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: cdc.gov.