CDPH Pausing Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations

April 13, 2021

Vaccine safety is always our top priority. In accordance with a recommendation from the CDC and FDA, the City of Chicago has paused administering the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine starting April 13 while federal health officials complete a review.

  • This was done out of an abundance of caution due to six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States, out of over 6.8 million doses given.
  • Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. We are not aware of any cases locally.
  • A key reason for the pause is to ensure that doctors know to use the correct treatment for this type of blood clot. The treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be used. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this type of blood clot, using heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.
  • All indications are that this is incredibly rare, in this instance around 1 in a million.
  • This pause shows our vaccine safety surveillance system is working.


Why is CDPH pausing use of J&J vaccine?

Federal agencies are investigating very rare reports of a severe type of blood clot with low platelets that occurred in 6 individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine, among nearly 7 million people who have received J&J across the U.S. We are not aware of any local cases.

I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, what should I do?

We understand that this news may cause concern. Millions of people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with no serious side effects. Serious reactions are extremely rare.

  • For people who got the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk is very low at this time.
  • For people who recently got the vaccine—within the last few weeks—they should be aware of any symptoms.
    • If you have received the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider and seek medical treatment.

Are Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also impacted?

The adverse incidents being investigated do not affect Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in any way. More than 180 million doses have been administered and we are not seeing these events with the other two vaccines.

People who have vaccine appointments with the other two vaccines should continue with their appointment. Vaccination remains critical to protect Chicagoans from COVID-19.

How does this impact vaccine operations in Chicago?

The Chicago State University mass vaccination site will switch to Pfizer vaccine for all appointments starting April 14.

Events scheduled with Walgreens as part of the Faith Month initiative will use the Pfizer vaccine this weekend.

The following programs using J&J vaccine are paused for now:

  • Protect Chicago Homebound program
  • O’Hare Airport POD
  • Chicago Federation of Labor vaccination site
  • CDPH/CTA vaccination bus
  • Illinois Restaurant Association special event
  • Midway Airport special event

Individuals with appointments at the above sites and events have received notification about rescheduling their appointments. All other vaccination sites in Chicago that use Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will operate as normal. For now, no new appointments will be booked at the United Center walk-up which was scheduled to switch to J&J vaccine next week.

How many people in Chicago will be impacted by this J&J vaccine pause?

In total, CDPH was scheduled to distribute approximately 13,000 doses of J&J vaccine this week.

How can I learn more?

The CDC and FDA held a public briefing at 10 am CT on April 13. You can watch it here.

Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health discussed J & J on her weekly Facebook Live and at a press conference on April 13.

What does the CDC and FDA review entail?

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on April 14 to further review these cases and their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, they recommend a pause in the use of J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

How many doses of J&J have been administered locally?

Approximately 42,500 doses have been administered in the city of Chicago (including to residents and nonresidents). Approximately 47,700 Chicagoans have received a J&J vaccine (included doses administered both in and outside the city limits).

How many J&J vaccines have been administered nationally?

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine have been administered in the U.S.