New York City and the state will resume the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson “immediately” at all of New York’s city and state-run vaccination sites after federal regulators lifted a temporary pause on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Saturday.
The J&J vaccine had been temporarily suspended on April 13th by federal regulators after 15 recipients — out of nearly 8 million people who received the dose — developed atypical blood clots. The Associated Press said the blood clots had occurred in 15 women, most under age 50, and that three of the patients died while seven patients remained hospitalized.
On Friday, the federal Food and Drug Administration lifted the pause on the J&J vaccine after determining the risk of blood clots was very rare.
“This is not a decision the agencies reached lightly,” FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said Friday, according to the AP.
An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted 10-4 Friday to resume vaccinations “without outright age restrictions, but made clear that the shots must come with clear warnings about the clots,” the AP said. The one-shot J&J vaccine is authorized for adults 18 years and up.
Cuomo said the state also had an independent task force of health experts review the data on the J&J vaccine, which “reaffirmed that the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can resume,” he said in a statement. He ordered state-run sites to offer the Johnson & Johnson shot “immediately.”
Cuomo added, “the vaccine is the weapon that will win the war against COVID and allow everyone to resume normalcy, and we have three proven vaccines at our disposal. I urge every New Yorker to take whichever one is available to them first. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can put the long COVID nightmare behind us once and for all.”
The FDA’s updated guidance will now increase the supply of the vaccine. In New York City, 6 million people have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is also manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. Yesterday the city also announced appointments will no longer be required at city-run sites to receive a shot.
The state health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, also recommended resuming administration of the J&J vaccine.
“The data has shown the vaccine’s known benefits far outweigh the potential and extremely rare risks, but we urge anyone with questions about the COVID-19 vaccines to speak with their healthcare provider,” said Dr. Zucker in the statement. “We will continue to communicate regular updates and guidance from the federal government to providers and the general public about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and all vaccines on the market.”
The city will also immediately resume administering the J&J vaccine at city sites and programs, including the homebound New Yorkers vaccination program, de Blasio said in a statement Saturday.
“The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is back and New York City will immediately resume our innovative mobile, pop-up, and homebound vaccination programs with this shot,” de Blasio said. “I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with our Health Commissioner Dr. Chokshi. We know firsthand that the vaccine is safe and effective, and now it’s easier than ever to get your shot. I encourage all New Yorkers to join the millions of your friends, family and neighbors who’ve been vaccinated. You can lead our city’s comeback.”