Shortly after the CDC and the FDA issued guidance recommending a “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because reports of potentially serious blood clots in six women out of 6.8 million who have received the vaccine, the Health Department announced that the Janssen-brand vaccine would be suspended for the time being.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the action was being taken “out of an abundance of caution” and she pointed out “both the CDC and FDA have said that these adverse events are extremely rare. “

The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to make recommendations.

Persichilli is concerned the pause will cause some to reject the idea of getting vaccinated.

“When they hear that there’s an adverse event related to any vaccine, whether it’s J&J, Moderna or Pfizer, it certainly brings that hesitancy to the forefront," she said. “People will become hesitant. They will become hesitant because they were always hesitant about vaccines and this just emphasizes their hesitancy.”

Persichilli noted some may think the vaccine was created too quickly and some may feel nervous.

“It’s a situation we’re going to have to deal with and we’re going to have to be transparent, give the facts," she said.

She pointed out almost 240,000 doses of Janssen vaccine have been given out in New Jersey and no one has had a serious adverse reaction similar to the 6 cases being investigated by the CDC.

She said people may feel concerned but it’s important to understand that getting seriously ill from COVID-19 is a much greater risk, which has killed 1 in 500 people in New Jersey.

"Your risk of being in that cohort is far greater than being the 1 in a million that gets a blood clot," she said.

She also noted that when other vaccines and medications have been developed there have also been occasional “pauses” and many prescription drugs contain warnings about possible serious side effects, including death, so people need to keep this situation in perspective.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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