UMMS Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

April 16, 2021

Note: The University of Maryland, Baltimore Vaccination Clinic is offering Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at this time.

Why are we pausing on administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

On April 13, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended an immediate pause of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This decision was made in response to six reported cases in the U.S. of a type of blood clot in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) in individuals who received the J&J vaccine. Based on the federal government’s decision and out of an abundance of caution, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) has ordered a statewide pause on administering the J&J vaccine until further federal guidance is provided. In accordance with the FDA, CDC and MDH, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) will not be administering the J&J vaccine at any of our hospital-based sites or at any UMMS-supported mass vaccination sites.

This pause provides time for public health authorities to both inform the public of this new important information and to educate the medical community about this rare risk so that it can be treated and reported appropriately.

Should I be concerned about whether the COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

This decision is in the best interest of maintaining the highest standards of vaccine safety — and a clear signal that the FDA and CDC’s rigorous safety monitoring protocols are working as they should. This is how the FDA and CDC are meant to operate when there is an issue. They want to quickly identify, investigate, and resolve any reported issues right away. Vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and for the American health care system, and all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination are taken very seriously. Fortunately, we still have two other COVID-19 vaccines that we will continue administering to team members, patients, and members of our communities.

Does this impact the effectiveness of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine?

No. This safety finding does not change the fact that this vaccine remains highly effective at preventing the most severe outcomes from COVID-19. As we see a resurgence of COVID-19 and circulating variant strains, this vaccine remains an important tool in our fight to end the pandemic.

How common are the adverse events associated with the J&J COVID-19 vaccine?

At this point, the adverse events associated with the J&J vaccine are exceedingly rare. As of April 12, 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. So that is one reported adverse event for every 1.1 million people to have received the vaccine.

What will UMMS do with its current J&J supply?

UMMS has about 6,900 doses of J&J in our hospitals, and 1,600 at the M&T Bank Stadium mass vaccination site. We will store this supply in a manner that prevents waste while we await further federal and state guidance.

How many doses of the J&J vaccine has UMMS administered?

UMMS has administered just over 1,200 doses in our hospitals, and almost 26,000 at M&T Bank Stadium. We have not administered any J&J at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital site.

What should people do if they received the J&J COVID-19 vaccine?

Per the CDC and FDA, people who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider immediately.