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Notice About the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

April 13, 2021

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID 19 vaccine due to six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council is reaching out to provide specific recommendations for shelters and other organizations serving people experiencing homelessness. COVID-19 infections cause more severe illness and death in people experiencing homelessness compared to the general population. Wearing masks, social distancing, and vaccinations are all part of a comprehensive approach to this pandemic. During this pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we want to stress that communities should continue to work diligently to prioritize people experiencing homelessness for vaccination and work to secure other vaccines that have been approved for emergency use, such as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

While we wait to hear next steps from the FDA and CDC, we encourage clinics and providers to consider the following recommendations:

1. Vaccine planning in your community must continue even during the disruption caused by this pause in J&J; please continue to meet and establish a plan B regardless of fluctuations in particular vaccine availability.

2. If clients decline a particular vaccine, have a procedure in place to refer individuals to an alternate setting that can provide the preferred vaccine (e.g., at a health center or other clinical location).

3. Multiple studies have established the very significant threat of death or severe illness from COVID-19. While very rare side effects may occur with any of the vaccines currently approved for use, COVID-19 remains the most serious risk.

4. If clients received the J&J vaccine in the past three weeks AND are newly experiencing any of the following symptoms, please be aware this could be serious. Provide medical care and report significant side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

 • Severe headache
• Backache
• Abdominal pain
• Shortness of breath
• Leg swelling
• New or easy bruising
• Blurred vision
• Fainting or loss of consciousness
• Loss of control over movement in part of the body
• Seizures
• Coma

We anticipate getting more information about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets to discuss this issue on Wednesday, April 14, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET. We will provide more information after hearing their determinations.




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